Emergency event communication tips for tourism businesses

In an emergency event, your whole local area or region, or a large number of businesses may be impacted. It's important that consistent messages are provided to the media to help with recovery and minimise loss of trade and earnings.

It is useful to establish a protocol that you and your staff can adhere to ensure you're delivering a consistent response to media enquiries.

Use the expertise of tourism organisations

Ideally, refer media enquiries to your tourism crisis management group or Regional Tourism Organisation. If you have to, or want to, speak with the media, it's recommended you consult with the tourism crisis management group or Regional Tourism Organisation.

Ensure staff understand your media policy

Record media contact processes in your business's crisis communication plan, and brief staff regularly. Appoint a staff member to a communication role in your crisis management team to avoid mixed messages.

Working with the media in an emergency

To buy time, record the journalist's name, organisation, phone number, email address and deadline, plus what questions they have, and say when you will contact them with a response.

Avoid saying 'no comment' and instead use phrases such as:

  • 'I don't have that information to confirm right now'
  • 'What I can tell you is...'
  • 'You're asking me to speculate, which I won’t do'
  • 'That's private information and we respect people's privacy'

Contact your Regional Tourism Organisation for advice on official messaging.

Suggested messages for emergency events

Use the following examples to communicate with media and the public after a serious tourist incident.

  • 'We are saddened to confirm that <number> of our guest(s) were injured/killed in an incident this morning. Our thoughts are with them, their families and the other guests on the tour.'
  • 'We are working with authorities to assist in any way we can.'
  • 'We have suspended our tours and will work closely with authorities regarding our upcoming tours.'
  • 'We would like to thank emergency services for their immediate response in assisting our affected guests so quickly.'

Use the following examples to notify visitors of a pending natural disaster

  • 'You should consider leaving the area if it is safe to do so.'
  • 'Check airport status updates and road closures before you leave.'
  • 'If you are planning to leave the area, remember to check the status of the airport and road closures by visiting the <local council> emergency dashboard.'
  • 'For information regarding the cyclone, please visit the <local council> emergency dashboard or listen to the local ABC radio station <provide station details>.'
  • 'If you have no option but to stay, contact your accommodation provider to ensure it is safe for you to stay.'

Source: Tourism Crisis Communication Toolkit for Regional Tourism Organisations, State of Queensland (Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development), 2019.

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