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NSW rallies behind tourism as beloved attraction burns

October 22, 2013 Destination Global, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59The famous Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow in New South Wales, about 140km northwest of Sydney, has been gutted and left with a damage bill of up to AUD 4 million after devastating bushfires ripped through the Blue Mountains.

Director Alexander Robinson-Mills told ABC News that trains, carriages and equipment had been burned out and a caretaker living on the railway site lost nearly everything she owned.

The Blue Mountains is bearing the brunt of the worst NSW bushfires in a decade. The NSW Government has pledged to support the tourism industry in its time of crisis. Tourism operators were briefed at the Blue Mountains Fire Control Centre at Katoomba on Sunday afternoon by the NSW Rural Fire Service. Afterwards, the regional tourism organisation, Blue Mountains, Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) immediately issued recommendations to tourism operators including:

  • That no bushwalking activities take place and no operators take guests into the bush;One of the carriages damaged in bushfires at the Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow
  • That accommodation providers offer guests a deferred visit option.

“The risks we face over the coming days should not be underestimated,”  chairman Randall Walker said.

“It is paramount to ensure that no visitors to our region are injured due to bushfires.”

Walker said members of the tourism industry, one of the major employers in the region, had been among the 200 families who had lost homes. They included a BMLOT director, tourism business owners and staff.

At the weekend, only major lookouts on the southern side of Wentworth Falls, Leura and Katoomba with vehicular access remained open. Echo Point Lookout and the Blue Mountains City Council Visitor Information Centres at Echo Point, Katoomba and Glenbrook also remained open. Tourism businesses such as Scenic World in the popular villages of Wentworth Falls, Leura and Katoomba remain open for visitors and are on standby for an escalation of fire threat.

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events, George Souris, said the NSW Government would provide support and assistance to communities affected by the bushfires.

“My thoughts are with the people devastated by these bushfires and with the men and women of the Rural Fire Service and emergency workers who have toiled tirelessly to protect property and lives,” Souris said.

“Tourism is a critical part of many of these communities. Once the fires have been controlled, the Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, will work with local operators and community leaders to prioritise where help is needed the most.

“We will be doing all we can to assist these communities rebuild their businesses and tourism livelihoods”.

“Support will include ensuring in the lead up to a busy summer holiday period, that visitors know the regions are ‘open for business’.”

Visitors planning to travel to any of the areas affected including, Lithgow, the Blue Mountains, Wyong (Central Coast), Heathbrae (Hunter region) and Balmoral (Southern Highlands) should check the latest bushfire information and advice on the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) website rfs.nsw.gov.au and for road closures livetraffic.com before they travel.

The local Visitor Information Centre can also be contacted. The locations of these can be found at visitnsw.com/visitor-information-centres/map

Written by : Peter Needham

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