AIRLINES –TT-LINE – TOURISM & MARKETING:
Mr FINCH - Does the Government provide any financial assistance to any of the airline carriers coming into Tasmania by way of marketing support or in any other form?
Ms WRIEDT - Yes, we do. As part of a joint marketing program of Tasmania as a destination, we do provide that.
Mr FINCH - Can you qualify that. How much support and how much do you share between the two airlines, Virgin and Qantas?
Mr GIASON - We join a range of different promotional activities that they undertake throughout the year. Because it is a competitive environment, we do not necessarily disclose from one to the other. But we have a pool of $1 million under the joint marketing for us to work with other industry partners, not only the airlines but also other wholesalers and operators. We usually get a return of about $1.50 to $2 for every dollar that we actually put forward.
Mr FINCH - Do you get any criticism, suggestions or acknowledgment from the airlines? They bring in 80 per cent of the visitors to Tasmania and the other 20 per cent come from TT-Line. From what we hear, a lot of marketing dollars are skewed towards the Spirit and the TT-Line operation.
Mr GIASON - We have a tremendous relationship with all the airlines. There is no serious criticism. They have a very clear understanding as we have actually kept them in the loop about our need to have both sea and air transport to connect our island status with regards to security of travel and transport. It is absolutely critical and they understand that.
With respect to the other issue, they also understand that they are selling multiple destinations, not just Tasmania. If I were able to encourage them to sell only Tasmania and no other destination, I am sure we would give them a better share of our marketing pie.
Mr FINCH - There has been negative publicity over the changed operations with Jetstar in particular. I suppose there has been a lot of negative publicity, particularly with respect to cancellation of flights. It seems to be an issue in people's minds. Is the Government concerned about that negative publicity that surrounds some of those operations?
Ms WRIEDT - Our Government is always concerned about any kind of negative publicity. That is probably a fair assessment. We have a very good close working relationship with all of the airlines. We meet regularly with representatives from each of the airlines. Likewise, Rob does as well on a regular basis. Despite the negative publicity that we have seen, it is important to understand that since Jetstar has been in Tasmania - it was the one-year anniversary last week - we have 13 000 extra air services into the State. That is in that one year since Jetstar came along. There has been huge growth. While we do see cancellations from time to time, they can occur for a variety of reasons. They can be because of problems with the aircraft - issues of safety which prevent the aircraft from flying. Other than that, they can have problems with scheduling and so on.
I think we have some stats on the number of flights that run on time. A total of 92 per cent of flights have left on time. That is pretty good in terms of travelling times. People can be very harsh critics about delays. When you are travelling, the one thing you want to do is get where you are going on time. Sometimes those things are unavoidable for a variety of reasons. But I think the benefits certainly outweigh any negatives in terms of frequency of travel for Tasmanians and the low cost of travel as well.
Mr FINCH - As an add-on to that, if you wanted to discuss their operations with Jetstar, Virgin or Qantas, is there a good open door policy? Is the Government able to freely discuss marketing issues and other negative publicity issues with the airlines?
Ms WRIEDT - Absolutely. We have an open door policy in relation to that. There are formal meetings held every six months, which Rob Giason attends. Likewise, as a minister, I will be doing a similar thing. There is certainly an ongoing dialogue. If any issues arise, they can be dealt with.
Mr FINCH - With respect to the decision to retain Spirit III and then to put another $2 million into the marketing of Spirit III , can I get some sort of feel of the indicators that the department may have been getting to suggest that this will be effective, that another $2 million in marketing is going to assist the operation and perhaps give the result that the indicators were showing. Maybe there is some information about how the $11 million was invested in the first place. I would just like some detail on that.
Ms WRIEDT - This is the second of those instalments. That is aimed at creating awareness of Tasmanian heritage values. Everybody has acknowledged some of the challenges that the Spirit had in its first year or so of operation. It was a very short period of time in order to penetrate a market - New South Wales and southern Queensland - that has always been regarded as difficult to access. In the discussions that we had in relation to the Spirit , it was something that was taken into consideration - the lack of time that the Spirit III had to penetrate those markets. This is the second instalment of that funding.
Mr GIASON - The funds are directed towards these 70 New South Wales and Queensland markets. There are in the vicinity of more than four million people that we categorise as 'people who are ripe for the picking' - people who are over 50 years of age, entering into retirement, have time and are in the classic market set for us to attract. We have had growth in those markets over the last three years. Sydney has softened a little in the last 12 months but Queensland continues to grow. The funds that TT-Line utilise are directed to those markets. They use television, print media and a range of travel agency stimuli, publications and promotions in those areas.
Mr FINCH - Are you able to reveal where you spend the money and how much you spend in each of those areas?
Mr GIASON - I would have to clarify that but the funds are given to TT-Line for their expenditure. They have added another $8 million or so to that from their own operational expenditure to enhance the campaign. I think they promoted it as an $11 million campaign last year.
Mr FINCH - Can we get information about how specifically that money was spent and in what areas?
Ms WRIEDT - I can tell you that for this year marketing expenditure totalled some $9 million. That was for 2004-05 and once again for 2005-06. On top of that is the $2 million. The $2 million was to market the Spirit III in partnership between Tourism Tasmania and TT-Line to maximise the service.
Mr GIASON - There was one program that TT-Line contributed towards. It was always supported by Southern Cross Television in northern Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. That was leveraging some of these funds as well. As to the specifics of all of the other campaigns, generally it was the media. I know it was television but I do not have the precise breakdowns of the different components of the media mix that they used.
Ms WRIEDT - TT-Line's budget for 2005-06 has not been submitted to the board for approval yet and will not be until its meeting in early June. There is probably a question mark on that.
Mr FINCH - Can something be provided though? I would be interested to see where $11 million of taxpayers' money was actually invested, where it was spent. I would like to see if the strategies are in place and that we have a better program.
Ms WRIEDT - I can appreciate that but tourism has only involved about $2 million and the rest of it is directly with TT-Line, which comes under it as a GBE.
Mr FINCH - Can we find out where the $2 million actually goes that the Government will allocate and what programs it will support?
Ms WRIEDT - I will take that on notice.
Mr GIASON - Just to qualify that, the $2 million would be absorbed within the $8 million or $9 million to add value to it all. We can highlight what targets and what audiences they were chasing so you can get an idea of the mix of media used.
Mrs JAMIESON - I have two or three questions regarding marketing. The Ulysses club is coming over to Tasmania next year. That is a motorcycle club. It was anticipated that they could have their AGM here. It was anticipated that between 4 000 and 6 000 people are coming, being members and their support people. How reliable is Spirit III going to be for getting people from the Sydney area? I know we cannot do too much about the weather. I know there is some concern about actually being able to get here.
Ms WRIEDT - It has been organised through Events Tasmania but there are special sailings in order to accommodate them for their voyages. What was the last part of the question?
Mrs JAMIESON - I was concerned about the reliability of Spirit III for those coming out of the Sydney and Brisbane area.
Ms WRIEDT - There is no question about reliability in terms of the Government's long-term commitment. From time to time there can be an issue with the weather. Apart from that, they can be absolutely guaranteed that there is now a long-term commitment to Spirit III and they need not have a concern.
Mrs JAMIESON - What about the infrastructure? I appreciate that this is an Events Tasmania thing but there is still a tourist element in here too. What about the other services required if they are going to stay on in Tasmania for a week or two afterwards or before?
Ms WRIEDT - I am advised that they will cope with that and there are tiedowns on the ship.
Mrs JAMIESON - And the motor home people are apparently coming back too. It may well coincide. We will have a sudden influx of bikes and motor homes.
Mr GIASON - We are aware of these issues. Tasmania has proved that it can cope with an influx of visitors and actually does it extremely well. The thing that we have now through Events Tasmania and through the tourism industry is a lot of coordination. Through our calendar, we are trying to encourage people to understand when the events are being held and what impact they might bring. There is far more significant and better coordination, which gives us a great deal of confidence that the industry will definitely be able to cope.
Mr HALL - Going back to the questions that Mr Finch had on Spirit III , I note that Mr Giason talked about a target market of four million people in New South Wales and southern Queensland, the growth house. It was brought out in the earlier question that something like $9 million for TT-Line was spent on additional marketing and now we have $2 million per year from Tourism Tasmania. How are you going to monitor the effectiveness of that additional $2 million which is going to be spent?
Ms WRIEDT - With anything in the marketing area, the effectiveness is linked to the number of visitors to the State and the number of passengers on the ships. That would have to be a major KPI in relation to any marketing effort.
Mr HALL - I suppose it has often been said that a lot of people travel down from Sydney and southern Queensland and still go on the Spirit I and Spirit II from Melbourne. I suppose it is a bit hard to determine.
Mr GIASON - The issue of the Tasmania visitors survey very clearly identifies travellers from various locations and also the mode of travel. We can actually pinpoint that pretty accurately. With regard to air and sea operators, we share and collaborate information. Our TVS is so powerful because it uses actual numbers of people travelling that are supplied to us by air and sea companies. We then use the survey methodology to develop an understanding of the profile of the visitors. That will give us very good information with regards to what sort of people come by sea and air. With the figures from TT-Line, we can see the proportion of those who are coming from the Sydney port.
Mr HALL - In relation to tourism marketing initiatives, I notice that includes the position of Tasmania as a premier touring market in Australia. I have three questions that lead from that statement. Firstly, how do you determine the premier touring market? secondly, how realistic is that initiative and, thirdly, what is the current premier touring market and where do we currently rate?
Mr GIASON - It may be aspirational, it may be bold or it may be a target but I think the issue for us looking at marketing the State and adding value to the funds that government provide is that we want people to come and tour for as many days as possible. The average length of stay is about 10 days. Ship visitors spend about 15 nights, air on average about 7.5. Like the ship strategy, it is all about trying to bring people here who can spend the longest period of time because they have the ability of moving around the various regional communities right throughout the State and add greater value to those regional communities that rely so much on tourism expenditure as part of their livelihood. The focus is on being focused to try to really target those who are staying the longer period of time. That is how we address the audience - those who have the longest capacity to stay in Tasmania for a touring holiday.
From all of the surveys and the work that we are doing, Tasmania commands the highest position as a touring destination. Being an island State, people regard Tasmania as a touring destination. For many years we have been labelled as the donut with regards to touring. We have been trying to break that down and that is why the 11 touring routes provide the opportunity for all communities to be involved as well.
Mr FINCH - What do you mean by 'donut'?
Mr GIASON - People were saying that you would go around Tasmania and you could do it easily in seven days. The challenge for us is to break down that perception. There is a lot more to Tasmania than seven-day touring. You actually need at least 15 nights, maybe even more, to take in all of what Tasmania has to offer. So it is aspirational in many ways but it is a target and it is a bold target. Unless we focus on this aspect, we are not going to derive the greatest benefits for the Tasmanian community through tourism.
Mr HALL - So you are basically saying we are the premier touring market in Australia.
Mr GIASON - Yes, definitely, in the sense of the touring market. There are touring routes in different areas, such as the Great Ocean Road, but as a State we have that distinction very clearly in the minds of our customers.
Mr HALL - With regard to the visiting journalists program, what does it cost each year? Firstly, what is the contribution from the department and, secondly, from any industry partners that might be involved in that?
Ms WRIEDT - While we find that figure, I will give you a bit of background on it. In the last 12 months Tourism Tasmania has hosted some 350 visiting journalists. These programs have generated in excess of $50 million of media value - print media and electronic media. It is quite fascinating to see because Tourism keeps a book of some of the articles that appear. Once the people have been through the program, they send back what they have actually produced. They are in a lot of different languages because they come from all around the world. Every six months Tourism Tasmania produces a book which shows all the articles that have appeared already. I do not know whether it is even all of them. It is an incredible folder.
As well as that figure, it is very well supported by industry themselves. They provide a range of support, either in-kind support or financial support, for the visits to take place. There is a contribution of about $300 000 from Tasmanian industry. It will either be heavily discounted or free overnight accommodation, meals, air fares, et cetera. Our program cost is around the same. It is about $300 000. It is really matched dollar for dollar by industry. It is a total of $600 000 investment, shared 50-50 between government and industry, for that $50 million of advertising, which is pretty good.
Monday 30 May 2005 - Estimates Committee B (Wriedt)
ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B