Robe tourism operators accuse COVID ‘misinformation’ of huge losses due to cancellations


Robe tourism operators blame disinformation at the city’s COVID-19 exposure sites for a “heartbreaking” number of cancellations.

Last week, five exhibition sites were listed for the small coastal town in south-eastern South Australia, including two close contact sites.

However, there have been no cases of COVID linked to the exposure sites.

Despite the lack of cases, Robe’s hosts said they had been “bleeding” with cancellations in recent days.

Robe Tourism Association secretary Lisa Hall, owner of Sea Vu Caravan Park, said the cancellations amounted to “thousands and thousands of dollars” in losses.

She said the misinformation was contributing to the heartbreak.

Lisa and Alan Hall say there have been thousands of dollars in cancellations at Sea Vu Caravan Park. (Provided: Lisa Hall)

“Robe is not a hotspot. We don’t know where this information is coming from.”

Ms Hall said summer visitors were their “bread and butter”.

“If we don’t get an exchange in January and February – and December – we won’t survive the whole year,” she said.

“So we hope that this message will not be passed on to anyone trying to cross the border.”

Cars and caravans in the foreground with the ocean and houses behind
Robe’s hosts say misinformation contributed to the cancellations. (Provided: Lisa Hall)

“It was dead”

Ms Hall’s comments were echoed by Robe B’n’B host Jamie Aitken.

He estimated that there had been around $ 100,000 in cancellations over the weekend.

“On weekends right now this town is absolutely buzzing, but this weekend it was dead,” Mr Aitken said.

He also blamed misinformation on social media and incorrect statements by authorities for the cancellations.

“A series of comments made in the media and social networks are causing us a lot of problems,” he said.

“We told people, ‘Don’t go to La Robe, it’s a hotspot’.

“[It] will continue with further cancellations unless this incorrect information is entered as quickly as possible. “

Hotel on the main street of Robe
The Caledonian Inn was identified as a close contact exhibition site last week.(ABC Sud-Est SA: Bec Whetham)

Honeymoon detour

Melbourne resident Erica Engeler was planning to visit Robe on her honeymoon, but her family turned to the border after a nurse at the Mount Gambier testing station told her there had a “COVID-19 epidemic in Robe”.

She said “it was a bit of a shock”.

Ms Engeler said that after the conversation with healthcare workers she tried to confirm the information online.

“Look up government websites to check how many sites were exhibition sites, where were they, how close to where we were staying and assess the risk based on that,” she said. declared.

“Because we came back with a lot of different variations on the story, that was our concern.

People swimming at Robe Beach
The Engelers decided to return to Victoria instead of spending their honeymoon at Robe Beach. (ABC Sud-Est SA: Selina Green)

Ms Engeler said it was “a really difficult decision to make”.

“A lot of things come into play,” she said.

“For us, for the kids. But you also think of the person you’re about to cancel 10 days of accommodation.

“It’s not a big hotel chain. He’s a guy who runs a house.

SA Health declined to comment.

Meanwhile, a South Australian Police spokesperson said there was “no evidence that officers made comments about avoiding Robe or that the area was a” point hot “”.

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