Impact of fire, flood and global pandemic on local tourism industry

The last two years have been particularly difficult, with multiple natural disasters and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
2019 Bushfires behind Echo Point (credit: Logan Spice Photography)

Blue Mountains residents and local businesses have withstood the worst of that, including our tourism sector. Data from a new report reveals the extent of that impact on tourism operators and the local economy.

Council commissioned the ‘Tourism Industry Profile 2021’ report, which was compiled by REMPLAN. It outlines the role of tourism in the Blue Mountains in terms of supporting the local economy and local workers and how that has changed over time. It will help Council advocate for the Blue Mountains and tourism industry.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Visitation has plunged by 40% since 2019.
  • There has been a $118 million loss in direct revenue.
  • An estimated 600 jobs have been lost in the industry.

Blue Mountains Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said: “Tourism is the lifeblood of our local economy.

“One in ten jobs in the Blue Mountains is in the tourism sector, making it the second largest employing industry in our region. In fact, tourism accounts for over 12% of total employment locally. That number is three times higher than that of our neighbouring Greater Western Sydney, and twice that of NSW as a whole.

“The industry also generates $484 million in gross annual revenue for the economy. We need tourism to keep locals in jobs, and keep our local businesses and economy going.”

Blue Mountains City Council CEO, Dr Rosemary Dillon said: “We know from anecdotal evidence that the industry is suffering, and the REMPLAN data in this report makes it clear that the drop in visitation is directly related to the 2019-2020 bushfires, floods, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Understanding and valuing the role of tourism and how the industry has been impacted over the last two years is critical to helping the industry and economy recover moving forward.”

View the ‘Tourism Industry Profile 2021’ report.

The release of the ‘Tourism Industry Profile 2021’ report is timely as it coincides with the official launch of the Blue Mountains Visitor Guide. It is an invaluable resource that showcases our natural beauty, local artisans and unique villages, and will inspire and encourage visitors to come, stay longer, spend more and disperse around the region more widely.

“The aim of the guide is to entice visitors to our region, translating to a range of economic benefits as we continue to navigate the complex impacts of natural disasters and COVID-19,” Mayor Greenhill said.

“The launch of this guide, and distribution to Visitor Information Centres around NSW and across Australia, will help bring visitors back and give the economy the boost it needs.

“Council obviously could not promote every single Blue Mountains business in this guide, but it’s designed to show the breadth of what the Blue Mountains offers including nature, culture, wellness, dining, adventure and accommodation experiences.”

The guide contains a wealth of information about the Blue Mountains tourism product including village snapshots. It also aims to promote ‘slow’ tourism to our region by encouraging overnight visitation and focusing on attracting a higher-yield visitor who is more socially aware of their responsibility of visiting a World Heritage Area.

Copies of the guide are available at the local Visitor Information Centres in Glenbrook and Echo Point, and some local businesses and tourism operators as well.

You can also download a digital copy from Council’s website.

Photo: Thousands of people also flocked to the lookout during the 2019 bushfires (Credit: Logan Spice Photography).

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