Many of us have a soft spot for Australia — and it’s more than just the cuddly koalas. Travel + Leisure named Australia our 2020 destination of the year for its stunning outback vistas, exciting culinary and wine scenes, and the sense of adventure and fun every Aussie seems to have. However, as Australia battles deadly bushfires that have lasted months, travelers may be wondering what they can do to help or if they can visit the beloved destination. Specifically, by donating or visiting the country's unaffected areas, anyone can contribute to the relief efforts as Australia recovers. Here's how to help:
Charities and relief efforts are seeking donations to help battle flames and recover charred lands.
- The Kangaroo Island Mayors Bushfire Appeal Fund: Accepting donations on GoFundMe to help rebuild homes and businesses lost in the fires.
- Hanson Bay Wildlife and Koala Sanctuary: Donations will go towards rebuilding koala habitats.
- Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park: Currently treating injured animals. Donations will help with veterinary costs, koala milk and supplements, extra holding/rehabilitation enclosures.
- County Fire Service Foundation: Helps the families of volunteer firefighters who have been injured or lost their homes or lives while battling the blazes.
- Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund: The Australian Red Cross is accepting monetary donations along with contributions of clothing and small home items to sell as a fundraiser. They're also accepting volunteers.
- Kangaroo Island Mayors Bushfire Appeal Fund: Money raised will go directly toward locals who need financial assistance in rebuilding their homes and businesses.
Economies rely on tourism. “Whilst bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open,” Tourism Australia said in a statement. “It is more important than ever that we rally around our communities and the tourism sector who may have been impacted. We would encourage all travellers coming to Australia to seek the most up to date information prior to departure, and remain informed about changing conditions whilst on the ground.”
And, once the fires are over, affected areas will need to bring tourists back.
South Australia's official Instagram account shared a video of the devastation done by the fires, but wrote an uplifting message, welcoming visitors to the unaffected areas of the country.
"We will continue to share information about the large areas of the island which remain unaffected and still incredibly pure," the post read. "We will give you recommendations about what is open and what to see and do safely once the CFS has announced it is fully safe to do so."
Of course, booking a trip to visit in a few months when the fires are over — and taking T+L's recommendations along with you — is a guaranteed way to help. Visiting the country and posting on social media may encourage others to visit and help spread the word that Australia is open for travelers.