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Floods an ongoing torment for regional tourism

Eastern Australia's disastrous big wet has caused almost seven in 10 domestic holidaymakers to rethink a visit to the regions this year.

With severe inundation impacting swathes of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania since October, 68 per cent of more than a thousand travellers surveyed for insurance provider InsureandGo are set to avoid at-risk locations in 2023.

One in four say they have been actively deterred from planning a trip to areas impacted by flood, while a further 21 per cent have ruled out a regional holiday in the near future while ever heavy rain and flooding continue to affect the country.

Some 24 per cent are still eager to travel regionally by plane but would avoid locations requiring them to drive lest they run into rough weather along the way.

Only a third of regional holidayers are expected to stick with their plans.

The fallout could mean at least 70 eastern state destinations will experience a drop in domestic visits, with government data indicating more than 43 towns in NSW were impacted by the 2022 floods, 24 in Victoria and three in Tasmania.

Some communities experienced their highest peaks in decades, with at least 10 rivers bursting their banks and almost all emptying into the Murray, which ushered the by then slow-moving deluge across South Australia's east and into the Great Australian Bight.

According to the Insurance Council of Australia, the NSW disaster was the nation's costliest on record, with more than $5.5 billion in claims.

Among predominantly older travellers still willing to chance a regions trip, many are taking additional precautions, says InsureandGo chief commercial officer Jonathan Etkind.

"Older Australians and residents from Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia who have higher levels of confidence visiting the regional areas will be providing much needed economic support to flood-affected towns," he said.

However almost all told the survey they would look at how they could minimise the risk of disruptions to their holidays.

Some 62 per cent said they would look for late-payment bookings and last-minute penalty-free cancellations, while 57 per cent indicated they would choose flexible flights that can be refunded or redeemed.

Twenty nine per cent agreed they would need to get natural disaster coverage and 27 per cent would opt for car hire with free cancellations.

Mr Etkind said travellers were best to be sensible and take precautions when visiting at-risk areas.

Natural disaster cover often included accommodation and transport cancellations, emergency lodgings and transport, and emergency assistance, replacements or refunds for affected personal belongings, he said.