The “worst” flood ever in the city of Brisbane in Australian state of Queensland could take a massive toll on tourism. The industry is likely to incur a loss of about $100 million, a top tourism official said, even as the Brisbane River peaked at about 4.46m on Thursday.
While most of the submerged areas in Brisbane are reeling under the damage by flood waters, many tourism businesses in Bundaberg, Gladstone and Agnes Water remain open, according to Tourism Queensland. These spots are easily accessible by air, the tourism information website said.
However, this has had no positive effects on business as tour operators in the state are reporting of surge in cancelations of Queensland holidays packages. According to media reports, the water level is expected to be constant for the next three or four days.
“The rising waters have had a direct disruption of tourist business in Brisbane, the Fitzroy region, around Rockhampton, and even into the western parts of the state,” Daniel Gschwind, chief executive of Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC), a top tourism body, was quoted as saying. “There are many cancellations where it wouldn't be necessary to cancel trips,” he said.
According to QTIC, limited road access and railway closure have added to the tourists’ woes.
The state weather emergency services said, although Brisbane airport remains open and no flights are canceled, travelers are advised to inquire well before starting on their travel. Connectivity to the airport from the city remained limited.
The flood in Brisbane, which is Australia’s third largest city, comes at the time when tourists were expected to flock to the renowned Tamworth Country Music Festival, held every January in the regional city of New South Wales celebrating Australia’s rich cultural heritage and Australian country music. To ensure visitors turn up at the event that kicks off on Friday, authorities have advised travelers to find safe ways to the city.
Queensland economy is majorly dependent on tourism and the Brisbane floods have reportedly deterred most of the state’s hot spots including the Great Barrier Reef that attracts tens of thousands of visitors. According to environmentalists, the flood waters have flushed toxins to the reef region that could have devastating effect on the coral reefs and marine life, even leading to their destruction. The Great Barrier Reef is a major source of tourism economy of Australia.
Besides, the local situation in Brisbane is not too great either. The death toll is rising, people have evacuated homes and the havoc wrecked by the flood is very much tangible.
“I read that in 1894 Brisbane experienced three of these floods. Hopefully the cyclone forming off the Queensland coast now keeps moving away from us,” laments a resident on Twitter.
With flash floods hitting Victoria, in the south-east, fear among residents in the region is palpable.
“Melbourne has been raining this whole week! Fingers crossed! Brisbane tragedy won’t happen here,” reads another tweet from an Australian national.