Tourism providers must be better prepared

Synergy between accommodation providers and crisis responders needs to be improved, Natural Hazards Research Australia has found.

NATURAL Hazards Research Australia’s (NHRA) exploration into last year’s floods in the country’s east has found further planning and coordination with tourism bodies needs to be undertaken in a crisis.

The provision of temporary housing in such a crisis, in locations which are tourist areas, resulted in a range of complex issues during the floods, with the Easter holidays also compounding the impact.

Many flood victims interviewed during the research, particularly those from the Northern Rivers, mentioned their distress at having to move from their temporary accommodation so others could enjoy their holiday.

NHRA found the processes, policies, and practices around temporary housing can be improved, and said more needs to be done to build relationships with accommodation providers, such as Airbnb and Stayz.

“Working together and finding ways to agree fair models for compensation and approaches that prioritise the needs of disaster survivors over tourists will really help in future disaster situations,” the research found.

One New South Wales-based victim told researchers the accommodation provider had done what they could to secure lodging for them, but the incoming guests would not budge on their holiday plans.

“She was ringing people saying, ‘can you cancel your holiday’ or ‘can you just change your room,” so that I didn’t have to change rooms, and they would say ‘no, we’re not cancelling our holidays. No’.”

Another victim from Queensland recounted a similar story at a caravan park.

“They were told to leave and they didn’t know when they could go back. They had nowhere to go, and you saw full families with little kids, mums that were breastfeeding, and they were crying.”

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