Bushfires: Australia’s meeting industry tries to dampen fears

Leaders of Australia’s convention bureaux have sought to allay fears about the recent bushfires and quash what it calls the spread of ‘misinformation’ online and through mainstream media.

The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) said conference organisers and event managers should contact its members for destination-specific information and advice.

CEO Andrew Hiebl said: “There is a lot of misinformation spreading globally about the Australian bushfires via mainstream and social media channels that needs to be addressed. Australia’s convention bureaux are best placed to provide up-to-date business events information given they are on the ground in each state and territory with direct connection to industry operators in their regions.”

Almost all Australian destinations are ‘safe to meet in’, he said, and AACB’s member convention bureaux would be able to ‘alleviate concerns for the many destinations not impacted’.

Andrew Hiebl

Those bureaux with regions directly or indirectly impacted, including smoke haze, would be able to help conference organisers ‘to provide relevant communication to their delegates’.

The AACB has endorsed Tourism Australia’s Bushfire Information page as an accurate online resource for the business events industry, delegates, media and commentators.

The interactive tool, updated daily, connects you to relevant emergency sites and includes a live map of Australia clearly depicting the many Australian tourism destinations open for business.

Hiebl added: “We express our gratitude to the frontline services facing the bushfires – protecting people, homes and local infrastructure. Our hearts go out to the communities that have been impacted.”

Meanwhile Nicole Walker, COO of Sydney-based professional congress organiser Arinex, said: “While we acknowledge the severity of these fires, we also stress that Australia otherwise continues to operate business as usual. Australians often think of ourselves as resilient; while we mourn the loss of life and think of all of those impacted, we also continue to go about our days. The smoke haze over affected cities will be short-lived and all airports and main roads remain fully operational.”