How Tasmania’s tourism industry can recover after a crisis, such as fire, will be the focus of a free forum to be held tonight in the Huon Valley by the University of Tasmania.
Word-renowned expert and author in tourism crisis Dr Gabby Walters from the University of Queensland will cover how crises affect the tourism market and the best road to recovery strategies.
Event organiser University of Tasmania Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Tourism Research and Education Network (TRENd) Anne Hardy said the event was also aimed at helping those who were affected by the recent bushfires in the Huon Valley.
“The impact to those communities was considerable, and the recovery journey is continuing,” Associate Professor Hardy said.
“Through this Fire Recovery Forum, we hope to engage with tourism organisations, business operators, industry employees, local council and our elected members to collaboratively future proof our regions from crisis events.
“The Tasmanian tourism industry is unique, and we need to share our research and knowledge, which is why we’re thrilled to have an expert of Gabby’s calibre lead the forum.”
No stranger to Tasmania, Dr Walters attended the University of Tasmania in Launceston in the early 1990s and has been a regular visitor to the State since.
Dr Walters said Tasmania was well looked upon by the domestic tourism market.
“The vast variety of natural attractions and the food and wine experiences place the State in a good position to offer ‘alternative’ travel routes, while those affected destinations recover,” Dr Walters said.
Dr Walters will share a collection of findings from multiple research projects that focus on disaster recovery for tourism destinations.
“I’ll cover how crises affect the tourism market and how they respond to different forms of crises including bushfires and recovery time,” she said.
“We’ll also look at when it’s ok to start promotional activity again and the kinds of messages that we have found work, the importance of consumer relationships in times of crisis and how to reach out to the tourist from an individual business and destination level.”
Dr Walters’ expertise is in global demand.
In 2014 she was invited by the United States Agency for International Development to deliver a keynote to the Jordanian tourism industry on how to manage the reputational damage it experienced as a result of the political unrest in the Middle East.
Dr Walters has been asked to help with Sri Lanka’s recovery efforts as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade aid scheme.
The event is supported by the University’s Institute for the Study of Social Change (College of Arts, Law and Education, TRENd, Willie Smith’s Apple Shed (event location) and Destination Southern Tasmania.