NRMA unveils plan for helping tourism rebound from disasters

NRMA Myall Shores Holiday Park - SES rescue
NRMA Myall Shores Holiday Park - SES rescue

As preparation begins for the bushfire season, the NRMA has today released its framework for helping the nation’s tourism sector rebound from disasters quicker and ensure the industry plays a greater role in preventative measures that reduce the impact of natural disasters.

The NRMA’s Packed and Ready report outlines how the tourism industry can be better involved in the prevention, preparation, response and recovery stages of emergency management. Currently the sector is only involved in the recovery phase of emergency response activities.

NRMA is one of Australia’s largest tourism and transport operators with over $1 billion in hotels, Parks and Resorts, commuter and tourism ferry services and car rental.

Packed and Ready calls for a nationally consistent approach to how disaster hotspots are identified – particularly during pandemics - and a more consistent approach to border closures.

CEO of NRMA Parks and Resorts, Paul Davies said it was estimated the Australian visitor economy lost $90 billion during 2020; a year ravaged by drought, bushfires, and the COVID 19 pandemic.

“The best way to minimise the impact of major disasters on the tourism industry is to be better prepared. Industry and government both have a role to play in this.

“During the bushfires, travellers found it difficult to understand if it was safe to travel and which areas to visit once they passed. When the COVID 19 pandemic followed, restrictions created confusion and dampened consumer confidence to book a holiday. This in turn affects the speed of recovery.

“We want an industry that comes together during adversity, and thrives in recovery. Tourism is a major industry in Australia and encouraging visitation to local communities after a major event or lockdown is vital to the region and the health of the economy.

“Working with government to facilitate knowledge and information transfer with the tourism sector will enable us all to be more resilient.”

“The NRMA commends the NSW Government for already undertaking work on a number of measures which have been recommended.”

The NRMA recommends providing key staff within the tourism sector with emergency management training so they can be mobilised to support frontline responses during disasters, and preventative measures such as the development of a standardised tourism business disaster preparedness kit to help operators ready themselves for the immediate response to disasters.

“Critically, the Australian Government should come together with its State and Territory counterparts and industry to facilitate timely and industry-specific messaging when major events occur. This in turn maintains confidence and assurance in the travel industry,” Mr Davies said.

Key recommendations made in the report include:

  1. The expansion of the State Emergency Management Committee to include an additional ‘Visitor Economy’ Functional Area.
  2. Local emergency services and councils come together with industry to develop improved emergency management and evacuation plans
  3. Industry works with government to develop a ‘Tourism Business Disaster Preparedness Kit’
  4. Standardised messaging on emergency alerts, warnings and bushfire danger ratings and what to do in these situations should be developed for operators
  5. Industry maintains a Visitor Economy Advisory Taskforce that is able to come together to assist government at time of a major crisis.
  6. Recovery and stimulus packages for major crisis are evaluated, determining those that were most effective and beneficial, along with implementation timeframes in future rollout of programs.
  7. Nationally consistent approach and definitions in an emergency (i.e. hot spots in pandemics) and an agreed upon consistent approach to border closures/openings.

Download The NRMA’s Packed and Ready report.