Had I purely followed the coverage of CNN (and other international news networks) in the run-up to my maiden voyage to Australia a couple of weeks ago, I'd have learned three things:
- A lot of it has been flooded. Actually, that’s an understatement. More than a lot of it. Areas reportedly the size of sizeable countries have been submerged. Many are inaccessible, and some require months – if not years – of recovery time;
- A few areas have remained dry, but that’s only made them susceptible to that other great Australian blight: bushfires, ripping through the countryside at a terrifying speed, and taking homes and businesses with them;
- Floods and fires cost people a lot of money. Thousands of Australians have been financially crippled by natural disasters in the past couple of months. But it gets worse. Tourists already put off by all the negative headlines out of Australia will feel financially crippled if they fight their fears and make the trip. The Aussie dollar is strong as an ox, and visitors from the UK, for example, can expect to get about half the value they received a few short years ago.
Now, I haven’t been sponsored by Tourism Australia to write this blog. If I had been, I’m pretty confident that everything written above would have been aggressively edited at best. But I’m going to say this: Australia, as you may be aware, is a big place. It’s also a diverse place. It’s a big, diverse place with a $34 billion tourism industry that deserves a little bit of support in the current meteorological and financial climate.