South African travellers have been advised not to cancel their travel arrangements to bushfire-stricken Australia unnecessarily.

This follows the US escalating its advisory for travellers to reconsider their travel, exercise caution and postpone travel to affected regions after the Australian state of New South Wales declared a week-long state of emergency on January 10.

Acres of land and homes have been destroyed, with a devastating loss of wildlife recorded, since September 2019 in the worst bushfires reported in the country in decades.

“We’d urge South African travellers to keep informed of the situation and to consult their travel agent before travelling,” says Sue Garrett, GM: product and marketing at the Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) South Africa.

“Despite the travel advisory, most destinations remain safe and open to visitors,” reports Garrett. “All international airports are operating as usual. Some roads and major highways have been closed in affected regions.”

Affected regions include the states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. “There are very challenging conditions in certain parts of these states, while other areas remain unaffected,” says Garrett.

Garrett reports that the group have not received any enquiries from concerned customers and that there has been no impact on their customers’ flights to date.

“Check in with an FCTG expert before making any decisions,” she recommends. “Our teams on the ground in Australia keep us updated in real-time as the situation develops. Should you have a trip planned to a fire-affected region, consult your travel expert and reschedule your trip rather than cancelling.

“The best thing travellers can do to support the country is to be informed, get on-the-ground advice and continue to visit. Tourism will play an even more important role in rebuilding the affected areas and supporting these communities,” Garrett explains.

The Flight Centre Travel Group advises travellers in Australia to:

* Keep travel agent, travel insurance and local emergency services contact details on hand.

* Monitor Tourism Australia’s social media and turn on push notifications to receive updates.

* Monitor the Tourism Australia website page, which it is updating daily with areas that are impacted by the bushfires, as well as providing safety advice and alerts.

* Monitor weather reports and air quality websites.

* Keep mobile devices charged.

* Comply with guidance from the local authorities at all times.

* Be prepared for travel delays and disruption in affected regions.