As Australia's deadly bushfire season burns on for a fifth month, the international community have been watching on with concern regarding tourists visiting the country.
As the area affected approaches 15 million acres and 500 million animals killed, MFAT has updated warnings to travellers and the US State Department has upgraded its risk levels.

Upgrading their advisory from Level 1 to Level 2 ("exercise increased caution") on the four-level system, this is the most severe advisory to non-mandatory travel before the department begins warning tourists to "reconsider travel".

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade updated their website Safetravel.govt.nz yesterday to reflect the "state of emergency" in local areas.

There is a general warning for New Zealand travellers to "exercise increased caution" with advise to research destinations thoroughly and obtain the most up to date information on the fires before travel.

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"Residents in the affected areas in many states have been issued a 'leave immediately' or 'prepare to leave' order. Severe bushfires are likely to continue to occur throughout Australia during the summer period. If you're in or near an affected area, stay safe and follow the advice of local authorities."


Although many parts of the country remain unaffected and tourism businesses remain in operation throughout these parts, visitors should double check their travel plans for the most up-to-date information on the growing bush fires crisis.

While the fires are localised to air quality is being affected in other areas of the country and tourists are advised to monitor local media and state fire and emergency sites for the latest information.

Lastly although New Zealand tourists in Australia are covered by a reciprocal health agreement MFAT advises tourists that some emergency medicine and services such as helicopter evacuation are not covered. Tourists should check they have comprehensive insurance before travel for all planned activities.

Tourism Australia's managing director Phillipa Harrison released a statement on January 3 following a decision to suspend promotion for affected areas.

"Whilst bushfires continue to impact parts of Australia, many areas are unaffected and most tourism businesses are still open.

"It is more important than ever that we rally around our communities and the tourism sector who may have been impacted.

"We would encourage all travellers coming to Australia to seek the most up to date information prior to departure, and remain informed about changing conditions whilst on the ground."

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Tourism Australia pulled high-profile, international advertising campaigns including a $15m music video targeting UK tourists and starring Kylie Minogue.

The UK Foreign office updated its warnings to travellers on December 30 to reflect the ongoing natural disaster.

Any New Zealanders requiring consular assistance should contact the nearest New Zealand Embassy or Consulate General, which can be found on the site safetravel.govt.nz/australia

New Zealanders travelling to Australia are recommended to register with the SafeTravel.govt.nz website to help account for wellbeing and coordinate consular response in the event of local emergencies.

World's worst bush fires

2003 Siberia bushfires, Russia

10,999,760 hectares

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2019-20 Australian Bush Fires, Australia

4,997,867 hectares

2014, Northwest Territory Fires, Canada

3,399,359 hectares

2019 Siberia Bush fires, Russia

2,711,393 hectares

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1939 Black Friday Bush fire, Victoria, Australia

2,023,428 hectares

2004 Alaska Bushfire, USA

2,020,000 hectares

1825 Miramichi Fire, Canada

1,214,057 hectares

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1871 Great Michigan Fire, USA

1,011,714 hectares

1845 The Great Fire, Oregon

607,028 hectares

2007 Athens bushfires Greece

271,139 hectares

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