THE bushfire in the Lower Glenelg National Park has caused a “mass exodus”, hitting tourism in the area hard, according to Nelson Hotel owner Neil Shelton.
Nelson Boat and Canoe Hire owner Chris Carson felt the impact of the fire almost instantly.
“We got hit hardest, all we do is canoeing.” Mr Carson said.
All his riverside campers inLowerGlenelgNational Parkwere evacuated Friday night, and 18 large groups cancelled their plans. However, Mr Carson said “I’d rather see people safe than make a dollar”.
“They’re (the CFA and DSE) dealing with it the best they can.”
With campers forced to leave the national park, however, Nelson was inundated with visitors.
Many had left behind campsites and caravans, and were given beds in the heavily bookedNelsonHotel.
“We were putting people on mattresses and finding blankets. Rooms that normally slept two had four in them.” Mr Shelton said.
Days later, on Tuesday night, 60 people sat for dinner, less than half the expected 150.
Despite the losses to his business, Mr Shelton sympathises with those who have been impacted inTasmaniaand NSW, in areas where they’re dependant on tourism.
Read more in Friday’s Portland Observer.