Tourists are abandoning regional holiday hotspots in Victoria and New South Wales, and it is mostly Aussies who are staying away.
Even in areas not affected by bushfires tourism is down by about 60%, tourism leaders say.
Losses to the tourism industry are already approaching $1 billion.
Australians are opting to stay home, which has led to a call for a new domestic promotional campaign.
The Australian Tourism Industry Council says there has been more than 60% of bookings cancelled in some areas, and areas which have been directly hit by bushfires, tourism is virtually zero.
So far the rate of cancellations from international visitors has been lower but the country’s tourism brand has undoubtedly taken a hit.
“The amount of negative publicity on Australia overseas should not be dismissed,” said Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Westaway.
Westaway said there is much that federal and state governments need to do including a new targeted advertising campaign, rapid infrastructure repairs in affected areas and financial support for small tourism-reliant businesses.
He said tourism industry losses are already ‘reaching towards $1 billion.’
Tourism minister Simon Birmingham says the government is working hard to get the right message out.
“We’ll be updating the tourism industry on what we’re doing to correct the misinformation that is out there about the geographical reach of these bushfires and also the targeted activity that is continuing to make sure the world knows Australia is still open for business,” he said.