NAB has given its 30,000 employees an additional day of annual leave to visit bushfire-stricken towns.
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The bank’s permanent employees will be given a list of communities to visit, from Gippsland in Victoria and South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, to south-east Queensland and the New South Wales south coast.
“We hope to help businesses such as cafes, restaurants, tour operators, hotels and other accommodation providers to get back on their feet,” NAB CEO Ross McEwan said.
Additionally, NAB has delivered a $5 million disaster relief fund which includes $2,000 grants for bank customers and business owners.
“These initiatives are designed to provide practical, on the ground support for our customers, our people and for those who are caring for affected communities,” Westpac acting chief executive Westpac Peter King said.
“In times of such unprecedented devastation, we want customers and communities to know we’re here to help alleviate financial concerns so they can rebuild their lives, homes and businesses.”
‘Holiday here this year’
The $20 million campaign encourages Australians to holiday in their own backyard and support the local economy.
The bushfires have caused up to $4.5 billion damage to the Australian tourism industry.
“There is no doubt that Australian tourism has been hit hard by the recent bushfires. It’s critical that we help the industry get back on its feet as soon as possible,” said Tourism Australia managing director Phillipa Harrison.
“We are currently in the middle of the peak summer period and we’re already seeing an impact on tourism as people delay or cancel their travel plans, including to areas that haven’t been directly affected.
“That is why we are asking people to commit to holidaying in their own backyard this year – whether it’s a drive up the coast, taking a trip interstate, or ticking off a bucket list destination – and to spread the word that Australia is ready to welcome more travellers.”
The Australian government has also rolled out an extra $76 million to boost tourism. The money is intended to protect jobs, local economies and businesses.
Bushfires pose ‘biggest challenge in living memory’
“Australian tourism is facing its biggest challenge in living memory,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this week.
“One in thirteen Australian jobs rely on tourism and hospitality so our $76 million investment is an urgent injection to help all those hotels, restaurants and cafes and tour operators get back on their feet.
“This is make or break for many businesses and tourist hot spots and not just in those areas directly hit by the bushfires.”
Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham echoed the calls for Australians to holiday locally.
“My message to anyone thinking about a holiday – from here or overseas – is that Australia’s towns and our incredible parks and beaches are open for business and they need your help.
“Just as it will be a long and challenging process for communities as they rebuild from fires, it will also take time and sustained effort to recover from the saturation media coverage and mistruths told online that have scared potential visitors away, including from parts of Australia that remain completely unaffected by fire.”
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