Flood Damage Hits Australia's Tourism Industry; Queensland Overwhelmed with Responses After Call for Voluntourists

19 January 2011

The Wall Street Journal has posted an article about how the recent floods in Australia's Queensland region have interrupted local tourism and are likely to add to declining national levels of tourism for the country:

Over the past month, rainfall that has blanketed an area roughly the size of Germany and France combined has deterred travelers from Queensland over the Christmas and New Year holidays, hotel managers say. The Queensland Tourism Industry Council estimated the floods could cost the local industry about $100 million... The floods come at a tough time for the industry, which is struggling to cope with a 20% surge in the Australian dollar in the last six months that has kept foreign visitors from booking trips to the country.

Meanwhile, Volunteering Qld.'s Community Response to Extreme Weather (CREW) program put out a call for voluntourists to visit the region and help mitigate damage by floods, and has been overwhelmed with over 65,000 responses. They are currently unable to report what proportion of these volunteers are voluntourists versus locals, but will post further information on their media page in coming days. They stated on January 17th:
Volunteering Qld is impressed by the ingenuity, creativity and generosity of potential volunteers. As well as help with the clean-up, some of the other offers we have passed onto the relevant agencies through our CREW  register have included:
  • People with vehicles offering to provide transportation for volunteers;
  • Homeowners wanting to offer spare rooms for long-term accommodation. (We have had many offers registered including: granny flats, a self-contained 2-bedroom cottage with a pool, and a house with enough spare rooms to take a whole family);
  • Artists wanting to volunteer to paint a mural, and bands wanting to put on a show;
  • A person organising donations of pet supplies (including food and beds).
We continue to help volunteers connect with clean-up opportunities, which we expect to continue for some time. As community groups and agencies continue to plan their long- term needs in terms of volunteer support for the long-term recovery, we encourage them to register with us – if they haven’t already – to take advantage of the CREW register.

Read the entire Geoffrey Rogow article on the Wall Street Journal.