Tuesday 1 June 2004 - Estimates Committee A (Bacon)
CHAIR - Mr Finch has one more question of you, Minister, before we move on to industry development.
Mr FINCH - Minister, I am curious about our winter campaign. We are coming up now to the winter season, circumstances change and that brings another query about TT-Line and how they are going to deal with their particular winter program. What do we have in place as far as marketing is concerned for the coming winter?
Mr BACON - In relation to individual events?
Mr FINCH - Yes, or how are going to market Tasmania to try to get more people here during the winter?
Mr BACON - I will ask Mr Giason to give you the detail but basically we are constantly working on the shoulders of winter and you have seen recently with our initiatives to renew the contracts for Targa and the V8 super cars - all those types of issues. We are constantly looking for new attractions that will bring people here for events that happen. We have the AFL football, which is a big program, but Mr Giason could fill you in on the finer detail.
Mr GIASON - The industry and ourselves have been working on the whole issue of visitation to the State for many years and through Tourism 21 we have a very good commitment to the whole process of building the shoulders, as the minister has indicated, and in doing that expending the season from the six months it was to about a nine or 10-month industry where people can actually generate an income.
A lot of the industry also understand the challenges that we have about the perception of Tasmania during winter and the industry has to change its way of presenting its product in many ways because in winter people are looking at a totally different type of product. They are not doing the same things that they might do during the other seasons.
Hence, the Government's Events strategy - four games of AFL football in Launceston during the year, which is very much concentrated on bringing new people in to show them what Tasmania is all about and give them a taste. All the research conducted by Events Tasmania indicates that a lot of people are spending three to five days in the northern part of the State during that time. So they are seeing the wineries and they are finding out that Tasmania is in fact a great destination during winter. But specifically for winter, to try to focus on an audience that is acclimatised, possibly, to visit and it is disposed of the visit in the short breaks market. We have a very aggressive campaign in the Melbourne market promoting to the Melburnians that Tasmania is an alternative to the Yarra Valley, to the Springs area, to the highlands area of Victoria, for their short breaks.
Mr FINCH - Is that specifically for winter though?
Mr GIASON - It is. It has just started - the minister launched it two weeks ago and it goes through until August. So the short breaks we have identified as possibly a more lucrative part of market that we can attract during the winter period, as well as the Events strategy.
1.2 Tourism industry development -
CHAIR - We now move into tourism industry development. I notice a difference in destination development versus industry development between the Estimates book and the wording in the output. I did think destination development sounded much better.
Mr FINCH - Minister, listed under this on page 489 there is a little bit of confusion here for me. One of the dot points here says:
'through the medium of Partnership agreements with local government, encourage the development of local tourism plans as part of the ongoing implementation of touring route strategies statewide;'
and then a couple of dot points down it says:
'support regional tourism organisations as the principal means of managing and developing regional capability;'
It seems to me that there is a bit of confusion there where, on one hand, you are saying we leave it to the regions to develop their tourism strategies but then, on the other, you say here you are going to have a partnership agreement with local government. Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing if you have two different approaches there in respect of regions and in respect of developing partnerships?
Mr BACON - Yes, it does but Mr Giason can explain.
Mr GIASON - There are around 22 partnerships with local governments. We integrate the partnership agreements with particularly with touring route strategies. In fact we are indicating and educating all local areas that in fact they do not have sufficient critical mass themselves to be able to make the whole story but by combining they do. The local tourism plans identify and do an audit of the issues where there are opportunities for the local government areas. So it is very specific for local government areas.
There is no duplication with the work that we do with the three regions. There are three key regions that have been in place for many years and they do the coordination work of their local government areas. The strategy is bringing in those plans that are done on the local level, so it is identifying that tourism works at the local level and at the regional level and that we have a role at the State level. So in real terms it is clearly articulating the roles that people have at the very stratum of government or regional areas that they occupy.
Mr BACON - There is a distinct difference too. Tourism is not just about bringing people from overseas or the mainland to Tasmania, it is about getting people in Tasmania to tour within their State, so the regional areas work on that. You would have noticed at Agfest the stall with local government and the different regional areas and that is about promoting Tasmania to Tasmanians and encouraging them to tour as well.
Mr FINCH - I imagine, too, it would be working with local government about facilities and amenities for tourists. I just felt there was a little bit of confusion there and I am hoping that your regional groups, your regional bodies, do not share that same confusion - that they know what their job is and when the government agency comes in to do their work there is no confusion there.
Mr GIASON - We work in total collaboration with the regions and when we are doing a partnership agreement the regional body is aware of the work that we are doing. We have an agreement of a funding that goes to the regional body that clearly identifies their roles and responsibilities in the whole process.
Through the partnership agreement it is clearly stated in the tourism plan that is developed on how they need to work with the regional bodies and how we can support them as well. I would never say people will not be confused because that is human nature but there is very little reason for confusion in the process that we have developed. Because many of these regional bodies are in fact a major subset of all the local government areas in any case it is good coordination among themselves as well.
Mr FINCH - There is another dot point here too about the continuing ongoing implementation of the visitor information centre development plans. You say there is 'ongoing implementation': how many do we have, where is the strategy going, and how many do we need to have? We would probably also want to do a comparison between what is happening now and what was happening under the TVIN - it is now the VIN - and probably the cost comparison between the two?
Mr BACON - Currently there are 20 privately operated Tasmanian visitor information networks throughout the State which display that gold and blue sign to indicate they have achieved their TVIN status. With a trend to more business arriving in Tasmania with limited pre?booking arrangements, a Tourism Tasmania review found there was a need to significantly enhance the quality of the visitor centre network and that this could be done through the introduction of new training programs, enhanced technology and the linking of centres into industry distribution systems to improve their effectiveness in converting information requests to sales.
The Tasmanian visitor information network - TVIN - development plan is in the final stages of development and it will identify initiatives to improve the provision of statewide information and to maximise visitor conversion and spending.
Mr FINCH - Do you know how many volunteers you have, because that is a volunteer driven obligation, is it not, or do you draw on volunteers to supplement the staff that you have?
Mr BACON - Many. We could probably get the figures if you want to put it on notice but I do not have those figures.
Mr FINCH - Yes, just how many paid staff you have in those.
Mr BACON - No paid staff.
Mr GIASON - No government staff.
Mr FINCH - Is it local councils which provide that staffunder what the minister has indicated with regards to training, distribution services, being able to assist those local communities and to try to service the visitor in a way where they can possibly get more revenue returns from that action and activity as well. So it makes them more self?sufficient, and certainly acknowledging the volunteers - as you rightly say.
Many communities have tens and hundreds of volunteers who actually provide the visitor service on a rotational basis through these centres, but they are all privately operated, sponsored mainly by local government and the regional tourism bodies.
Mr FINCH - Mr Giason, you referred to it as the TVIN. Is it still known as the TVIN? It is not a name change to VIN? It is still TVIN. When it was a commercial operation what was the Government paying that organisation to look after those information centres?
Mr GIASON - It would have been the $200 000 mark but we also had another fixed cost in staff because there was a staff member planted into the board, so there was another $100 000 cost, on?costs, office and so on with that particular person as well.
Mr FINCH - So there are savings now with the new operation?
Mr GIASON - There is no cash savings but there are resource savings. That resource has actually been associated with the development of the TVIN project and regional tourism, so in real terms that resource is still undertaking the work on behalf of that dedicated unit, basically the TVIN area.
Mrs JAMIESON - Before you go on, Madam Chair, just following that up, your figures from approximately 20 services, do they including white 'i's' as well?
Mr GIASON - No.
Mrs JAMIESON - So how many white 'i's' have we got around the State. Further to that, a huge number of shops and service stations and what have you are also offering information, correctly or otherwise because the service centre is not open apart from maybe 9 to 3 but the travelling public is on the road much earlier than that and later and so service stations and small shops, particularly in areas like Latrobe, Deloraine are actually given loads of questions at the wrong time. It is their busy time and they are dealing with meals and things like that and that does not ever seem to be taken into account. In other words we need an extension of hours.
Mr GIASON – Firstly, the reason the TVINs are the TVINs is that they meet certain criteria for accreditation, so there is a set criteria.
We do not administer the white 'i's'. We try to ensure they disseminate correct and proper information but we do not have a police role either. We cannot stop people from putting an 'i' sign up as some people do, except through the signage policy - try to do it that way. We work in cooperation with communities as much as we possibly can. And of course our focus is on the 20. We believe that is sufficient as long as they are located in the right geographic spots to service visitor needs. It is a matter of supporting that network and strengthening that network's capabilities and of course their hours of operation and the like.
Mrs JAMIESON - The reason I make the comment again is because of Latrobe being just that little bit out of the run of things from Devonport, where traffic has moved on and all of a sudden a visitor needs information. So there is a need.
Mr FINCH - Just in respect to those visitor centres, too, I do not have in my mind's eye where they are located. I know some of them. But I am just curious about the access for them in respect of caravans and recreational vehicles; do they have good access to get to visitor centres? Because they are the people I would imagine, along with other travellers, who would want to access the visitor centres. But with caravans being such big vehicles, do they have good opportunities, particularly in the major centres like Launceston and Burnie and Hobart, to get into those centres to get their information?
Mr BACON - I think what you will find with caravans is that they will park the caravan and just use their car, so they have the same access as anybody who would normally drive around and look for information.
Mr FINCH - What if they are looking for somewhere to park their caravan?
Mr BACON - With the motor homes and their campervans, they go through a very extensive program before they come to the State. They are very well organised, have a lot of chapters in each area around the whole of Australia, and the resident chapter will control anything that happens. They are very efficient, they do not allow a mess at sites and things like that. The chapter here will contact the tourism council, Tourism Tasmania, and they will get all the information on Tasmania that is possible. Even when we think we do not have something, they will find it and give it to their members before they even get to Tasmania. I am lodging a brochure tomorrow on that one.