By Joshua Crouthamel
Tourism is vital to our country. It makes up a huge amount of our GDP (over $60 billion), and employs around 700,000 people.
As we suffer the worst bushfires in history, many livelihoods that rely on tourism are being threatened.
Temperatures will eventually drop and rain start to fall. The bush will regenerate but businesses affected by this terrible climate disaster won’t – not without clients.
Anne is the lesbian owner and operator of an LGBTQI friendly bed and breakfast on Kangaroo Island. She paints a stark picture.
“The majority of my bookings are for the summer season, and, understandably, everyone’s cancelled,” she says.
“We’ll be able to function at full capacity again in the next couple of weeks, but our income for the year is shot and it’ll take time for the environment to regrow and become as spectacular as it was before Christmas.
That will take years. But businesses like mine can’t wait for years to turn a profit.”
Anne says that seeking out LGBTQI businesses in bushfire affected areas as they struggle to rebuild is just as important as donating to fire services and the Australian Red Cross.
“People need shelter, fires need to be put out, but people like me also need to rebuild. We need customers to do that.”
In New South Wales, a community of gay and lesbian business owners in Kangaroo Valley have come together to support one another, offering up their services to those who would otherwise be competitors as they deal with the blazes.
Dave operates a cafe on the high street.
“We’re doing our best to put the pieces back together, but in the meantime, if we don’t have money coming through the door, we’re fucked,” he says.
According to Dave, Â local bed and breakfast owners in Kangaroo Valley who haven’t been hit by the fires have been honouring the bookings of those who have faced devastation – Â and they are turning over all of the cash generated.
“We’ve got a strong sense of community – the queer business owners here working in hospitality. We just need the punters back and the devastating landscape is putting people off.”
The pink dollar has propped up small business owners after other catastrophes, such as the floods in Queensland years ago.
Operators who are trying to rebuild after the fires urge the community to spend their holiday dollars on trips to charred domestic landscapes in order to ensure they can continue operations.
If you’re planning a holiday in the near future, consider a local destination, especially rural and remote coastal places.
Pack a big heart in addition to your Speedos, and know you are doing more than just taking a holiday.