Australia floods leave tourist industry in peril

The terrible floods in Queensland, Australia, have destroyed thousands of homes, done billions of dollars of damage, and have left at least a dozen people dead. Queensland is a major coal exporter, and with the rising waters hampering shipments and flooding mines, world coal prices have risen. A major consumer of Queensland coal are Asian steel mills, which are already feeling the pinch. This has led to a rise in steel prices. That’s a double dose of bad news for the economic recovery.

Another Queensland industry has also been hard hit–tourism. The tourists have fled along with the residents, but it’s the long-term effects that are more harmful. If rising coal and steel prices hurt the economic recovery, that’s bound to hurt the tourism industry pretty much everywhere. Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, is the center for Australia’s Gold Coast, a major draw for Australia’s $32 billion tourist industry. Floods are damaging popular beaches and will require costly repairs. Coastal and riverside hotels and shops are being destroyed. The Brisbane Times reports that toxic materials washed into the sea could have an effect on delicate coral reefs and fish populations. With snorkeling and scuba diving such popular activities on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, this could do long-term damage to tourism.

Meanwhile, airlines are worried about how this will affect them. Virgin Blue has already seen its shares drop by 3.4 percent today because investors fear there will be a drop in bookings. Qantas shares also dipped slightly. Airlines are issuing fee waivers for passengers who want to change their flights to, from, or through Brisbane.

It looks like Queensland residents will suffer from the flood long after the waters recede.

[Photo of Brisbane sunset courtesy user t i m m a y via Gadling’s flickr pool]

A Wild West Ride in Australia

When I was looking for a photo for my Wild West World amusement park post, I found out about the Wild West Adventure Falls ride in Australia. It’s located in Warner Brothers Movie World on the Gold Coast.

This ride is the largest theme park attraction in Australia and it sounds like a blast. There is a geyser, wagon train, an Indian reservation and a ghost town in the mix of this part roller coaster, part water ride thriller.

When I went Australia, I was on the other side of the country near Perth and Fremantle. The Gold Coast part of the country looks to me like it’s a bit like going to Orlando or Los Angeles where there is an attraction at every highway exit. It’s south of Brisbane and touted as a tourist destination hotspot.

As much as I like theme parks, it’s curious that someone might spend all the money for the flight to Australia and head to theme park central for their vacation. But, then, people spend all the money for a plane ticket to the U.S. and spend all their time in amusement parks here. This is just something I thought about when I looked up Wild West Adventure Falls.