Building back better: Telling the stories of tourism businesses on the road to recovery 


September 25, 2023

Global Ballooning

How you respond to a disaster can make or break your business. That’s why The Content Division collaborated with the Australian Tourism Industry Council and EarthCheck on a series of emotional and inspirational videos to help businesses across the visitor economy survive and thrive in the face of disaster.

A manual for disaster

The ‘Don’t Risk It!’ manual is intended to help tourism operators of all sizes understand their risk and improve their disaster management processes.

Prepared by EarthCheck, the world’s leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism, the ‘Don’t Risk It!’ manual was initially released through the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in 2012.

In 2023, the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) – the national representative body of Australia’s state and territory tourism industry councils – commissioned EarthCheck to redevelop the manual in line with the United Nations’ Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction, which encompasses disaster prevention, preparation, response and recovery.

But the project, funded through the Federal Government disaster resilience program, wouldn’t just include a refreshed version of the ‘Don’t Risk It!’ guide – it would also include a suite of case study videos, showcasing businesses that have experienced disasters and enhanced their disaster management practices as a result.

The Content Division was commissioned to produce this series of storytelling videos for an audience of 25,000 tourism and hospitality operators throughout Australia.

Dr Natasha Montesalvo, EarthCheck’s Principal Consultant for Destinations, Strategy & Insights, says the goal of these videos was to bring the ‘Don’t Risk It!’ toolkit to life.

“Our goal was to create engaging real-life case study materials that emphasise the importance of disaster prevention, preparedness, coordinated response and recovery,” she says.

“The videos needed to be engaging and create a connection with the industry. These videos are all about empowering action.”

Risky business

The subjects of the videos were chosen to highlight the range of disaster and crisis situations that can impact the visitor economy.

A disaster can be a natural occurrence, like a cyclone or a flood. But it can also be man-made, such as a cyber attack. And, of course, a health scare can be a disaster, as in the case of the coronavirus pandemic.

With five businesses and scenarios identified by EarthCheck and ATIC, we worked to identify key messages for each video, while emphasising links to the Prepare, Prevent, Respond and Recovery model of disaster management.

Our team prepared questions and identified the footage that would be required to create compelling and engaging narratives for each business.

“The team at The Content Division worked with us to outline the questions and prepare for each shoot in a way that would get our key messaging across to the audience,” Dr Montesalvo says.

“They understood the material and were able to shape the content to fit our needs.”

We sent videographers to each of the five locations to conduct interviews and capture b-roll, and where relevant, acquired the rights to use footage of the disasters that had impacted these businesses.

The case studies included the BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort in Airlie Beach, which had experienced a series of severe cyclones…

Kimberleyland Waterfront Holiday Park in Western Australia, which was hit hard by COVID-19…

Global Ballooning, a business offering hot air balloon flights over Melbourne, the Yarra Valley and Mansfield that fell victim to cyber crime…

Tweed Eco Cruises, a cruise operator on the Tweed River that was impacted by the worst floods in the region’s history…

And The National Capital Education Tourism Project (NCETP), the body responsible for facilitating and marketing Canberra tours to schools around the country, which was left to pick up the pieces after COVID-19 shut down these tours.

Ultimately, the goal with each video was to demonstrate the importance of creating comprehensive disaster management plans to tourism and hospitality operators, and encourage them to put their own plans in place.

“The finished videos are engaging, clear and high quality,” Dr Montesalvo says. “They offer a strong insight into the topic area in a way that is respectful of the challenges that the industry operators were facing.

“Disaster management is a sensitive topic, as we are dealing with business trauma. The team at The Content Division were respectful of this and painted a picture of the impact and implications, with key messaging shining through.

“The finished series is absolutely fantastic!”