At the height of the blaze visitors were warned to steer clear of the Three Sisters and Scenic World but Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker said it was unlikely the reports would negatively affect the industry.
“What is occasionally a negative news story is possibly also broadcasting what’s exciting about the destination . . . [Visitors] know that there are inherent risks such as bushfires in summer and I think some people find that appealing,” said Mr Walker.
“Under normal circumstances, just the mere fact of reporting bushfires somewhere in the Blue Mountains region, we do have an immediate increase in visitors and visitor spend.”
Mr Walker pointed out that the speed of firefighters in combating the blaze and the wet weather that followed proved helpful in quickly convincing tourists that it was safe to return to the Mountains.
“Had the weather stayed hot and warm it may have appeared that the bushfires were continuing . . . We didn’t really have to go into the communication side of telling everyone that the Mountains was open for business again, only because the weather made it obvious,” said Mr Walker. “So we feel that it was pretty much contained to the one day.”
BMLOT has a bushfire response strategy in place that includes funds to be used to publicise that it is safe for visitors to return in the event of a major incident. That money did not need to be spent in the wake of last week’s fire.
Mr Walker said he was comfortable with all safety steps enacted by the emergency services last week, including warning tourists to steer clear of the Echo Point area.
“We supported all of the precautionary steps that were taken and the most important thing for us is that we, as a tourism industry, we comply immediately with any requests or suggestions from the Rural Fire Service and National Parks because of course there’s one thing worse than a bushfire, and that’s a fatality,” he said.