LOCAL tourism is shaping up as the major victim of the bushfires.
Chairwoman of the Shoalhaven Tourism Board Catherine Shields is hearing reports from tourism operators that the fire emergency text messages caused people who were nowhere near the fire to leave the region.
“The emergency services are to be congratulated for doing such an excellent job. The fact no lives and virtually no property was lost shows what an incredible effort they put in.
“But I think we have a little bit of evaluation to do in the wake of the warnings.
“I think there was a bit of unnecessary concern which caused people to pack up and leave.
“Trade at the general store in Currarong dropped about 20 per cent after those messages.
“I have heard from one operator in Bawley Point saying people were cancelling holidays.
“I’ve been told that someone who was staying at Greenwell Point left to return early to Canberra after the text message.
“The only danger they were in was probably being on the roads and potentially getting in the way of emergency services.
“We need to find a way to make sure that when these emergencies happen there’s a way of limiting damage to the tourism sector whilst not compromising the effectiveness of the emergency services,” she said.