Australian government pledges $52 million to revive tourism in bushfire-ravaged states

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jan 19, 2020, 10.17 AM(IST) Edited By: Bharat Sharma

A koala sits among burnt trees after bushfires on Kangaroo Island, Australia January 14, 2020 Photograph:( Reuters )

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The fires were brought under control very recently after the disaster ruined an area roughly a third the size of Germany since September

The Australian government has pledged $52 million (A$76 million) to the tourism industry in the aftermath of bushfires that ravaged the country. Currently, Australia is witnessing heavy rains that have helped to dampen the effect of the fire.

The fires were brought under control very recently after the disaster ruined an area roughly a third the size of Germany since September. 

"Our federal response to these devastating bushfires is comprehensive and unprecedented," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.

Around 29 people have killed in the bushfires, with millions of animals falling victim to the fire.

The country is famous for its pristine beaches, abundant wildlife, and open-air sporting events.

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Image: A general view of Tomich Winery following a bushfire in December 2019, in Adelaide Hills, Australia January 18, 2020 | Reuters
 

Reuters reported that the damage to tourism has cost the country A$1 billion, as per the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC).

However, the losses may run over A$4.5 billion by the end of 2020, as suggested by the Australian Tourism Export Council. 

Watch: Australia: Floods, road closures affected bushfire-hit regions after heavy storm

More funds may be allotted for recovery later on, with Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham calling it an ''initial package''.

"There may need to be additional support and funding as we work through this recovery," Birmingham said.

Tourism accounts for three per cent of the annual economic output in the country and is expected to take hits owing to the disastrous fires. 

The states of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland have been affected the most by fires, and are now dealing with unprecedented rain and thunderstorms.

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Image: This photo taken on January 15, 2020 shows a burnt vehicle seen after a bushfire in Budgong area of New South Wales | AFP
 

More rain is expected in eastern and southern Australia in the next two days, which will help the cause of the firefighters and help cool the fires further.

Reuters reported that 69 bushfires are still burning in New South Wales, with a third of them still uncontained. 

Victoria might get some relief from fire as storms are expected to gain traction. As of today, 14 fires are burning in the state, which is a famous hiking spot.

There were fears of smoke emanating from bushfires causing a delay in the Australian Open tennis tournament, but the smoke had receded by then.

Also read: After bushfires, unprecedented rain floods parts of Australian east coast

(With inputs from Reuters)