12 January 2011

Update on the flood situation for tourists to Australia

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Tourism Australia has released information for overseas tourists currently in Australia, or planning to visit in the near future with regards to the floods in Queensland.

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Overseas tourists in Australia or those visiting soon are encouraged to avoid flood affected areas, but overall Australia remains open and continues to welcome tourists.

Australia, like most parts of the world, is affected by extreme weather conditions from time to time. Recent heavy rainfalls in some parts of Australia, most notably in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, have caused river levels to rise and severe localised flooding. 

Visitors are urged to avoid the flood affected areas of Queensland and other states, but Australia remains open for business and continues to welcome overseas travellers.

The vast majority of the major international travel destinations in Australia, including Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, Melbourne and Uluru are all completely unaffected.

Travellers are advised to contact their travel agent, accommodation or tour provider directly if they have any concerns about any current bookings or before considering changing their travel plans.

Access to parts of Queensland is currently affected by flooding, so if you are planning to visit southern Queensland in the immediate future you should check official sources for up to date information about access to those areas.

Parts of Brisbane, Central Queensland, the Queensland Outback, Southern Downs and Granite Belt, Toowoomba and Darling Downs, Western Downs, South Burnett and the Lockyer Valley are currently affected by flooding and access is restricted in these areas.  For information on latest conditions visit www.qld.gov.au/floods or  http://131940.qld.gov.au for the latest road updates.

Most tourism businesses in Bundaberg, Gladstone, Agnes Water and 1770, Bargara beaches, Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island, are now open and returning to normal business operation but there may however be some limited local road access.
The Gold Coast, Whitsundays, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns, Port Douglas and Tropical North Queensland are currently accessible and most tourism operations in these regions are open for business. This includes beaches, island resorts, accommodation providers, tours and attractions.

Most tourism operations on the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast are currently open; however localised flooding has affected road access in some of these areas. For latest road conditions visit http://131940.qld.gov.au/.

With the exception of Rockhampton Airport, all Queensland airports are currently open. For those travelling by road, please visit http://131940.qld.gov.au/ for the latest updates on road closures and travel information.

Please contact your travel agent, accommodation, attraction or tour provider directly for concerns about any current or upcoming bookings you may have or before considering changing your travel plans.

Parts of northern New South Wales are currently affected by flooding which has led to the closure of some major roads and highways, so people intending to travel to northern New South Wales by road via the Pacific or New England Highways are advised to postpone their trip until flood waters subside and roads reopen.

The Pacific Highway is currently closed from Halfway Creek in the south to Maclean in the north while the New England Highway is closed north of the Queensland border. The alternative route between Coffs Harbour and Grafton, The Orara Way, is also closed in both directions.

The Gwydir Highway is closed between Grafton and Glen Innes. The Bruxner Highway is closed between Casino and Tenterfield and the Summerland Way is closed from Grevillia to the Queensland border.

In western New South Wales, the Kamilaroi Highway is closed between Bourke and Brewarrina.

For further updates on road closures visit the Roads and Traffic Authority’s website at www.livetrafficnsw.com.au or contact the RTA Traffic Information Line on 132 701.

The State Emergency Service is also advising people who are camping in northern New South Wales to establish camp sites on high ground well above areas liable to flooding and that those travelling with caravans should also be parked well away from rivers and streams. The SES advises that rising rivers are likely to cut access so campers and caravanners should consider whether to find a different camping area where access will not be lost.

Further details and updates on flood emergency procedures visit http://www.ses.nsw.gov.au/ and for Emergency Assistance in Floods & Storms. 

All visitors to Australia, unless they have an Australian or New Zealand passport, must have an Australian Travel Visa. The most popular tourist visa is the quick ETA Visa system, which is an online travel authority program that allows the holder to enter Australia for tourism purposes for up to three months. Once approved, the ETA is electronically attached to a passport removing the need for further paperwork. 

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge their Australian Visa application with Australian High Commission

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