Ovens & Murray Advertiser

Fires taking a toll

Tourism industry, economy hit as smoke, threat of fires keeps visitors away

- BY JEFF ZEUSCHNER jzeuschner@ nemedia.com.au •For up to date Bushfire informatio­n go to emergency.vic.gov.au

INDIGO Shire may have so far escaped any physical impact from devastatin­g bushfires continuing to ravage parts of the North East, but smoke and the risk of fires is already exacting a heavy toll on the tourism industry.

Speaking to the Ovens and Murray Advertiser

yesterday, Mayor Jenny O’Connor said this week’s cancellati­on of A Day On The Green - headed by Cold Chisel at All Saints Estate in Wahgunyah, was just a glimpse of the impact being felt locally.

“While we’re not directly fire affected so far, we can’t put out the message that we’re opened for business because of the ongoing high risk of fires starting and the constant smoke, often at hazardous levels,” Cr O’Connor said.

“Tourism is our main economic driver in summer and it’s being severly impacted.

“Understand­ably people aren’t being encouraged to be here due to the fire risk.

“Our businesses in all our towns throughout the shire and being hit financiall­y... many rely on the summer to get through the year.

“We will need assistance from the state and federal government­s to help recover from the devastatin­g impact this is having on our local businesses and tourism industry.”

Cr O’Connor said local residents should do what they could to support local business.

“Without the tourist trade, businesses will need our help,” she said.

“Our communitie­s should do everything they can to buy local and support businesses in their towns.”

While some rain and cooler weather earlier this week has helped authoritie­s tackle large fires still out of control in the Upper Murray and Mt Buffalo, Buckland and Abbedyard regions, hotter weather will elevate the fire danger tomorrow.

Authoritie­s have warned that they’re in for a “very, very long fire fight” and communitie­s can expect smoke for sometime - dependent on prevailing winds and fire activity.

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