Thursday 10 November 2011

Hansard of the Legislative Council


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - I am going to talk about ecotourism today but I do not think I will touch on those new opportunities that might arise because of the new reserves that might be developed. That is some way down the track and debatable. Tasmania has obvious advantages in growing our ecotourism market. Apart from our national parks, there are many areas of natural wilderness and scenic beauty that are suitable for ecotourism development. I do not think we have gone nearly as far as New Zealand in developing this area of tourism.

I want to define 'ecotourism' before I go any further:

'Ecotourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that fosters environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation.'

That is the definition of the national body for Australia's ecotourism industry, Ecotourism Australia, which has a diverse membership and includes key industry sectors such as ecotourism accommodation; tour and attraction operators; tourism planners; protected-area managers; academics and students; tourism, environmental and interpretation and training consultants; local and regional tourism associations; and travellers.

We in the north are less than an hour's flight from Melbourne, so why do I draw attention to this? A little more than a week ago the Examiner newspaper ran a story quoting ecotourism expert Tony Charters on Tasmania's potential for nature-based tourism activity. Madam President, you might remember that we, along with the member for Derwent, heard Tony Charters speak at a forum a couple of Sundays ago. He suggested that Tasmania should team up with Melbourne to provide international visitors with an opportunity to extend their experience to a nature-based holiday in Tasmania. In other words, you get a city-based and a nature-based holiday package.

Mr Charters was speaking at the Global Eco Asia-Pacific Tourism Conference that is taking place in Sydney this week. He said Australia needed to catch up with Asia, which appeared to be leading the ecotourism market. As we heard at that forum, Malaysia has jumped the gun on Australia and Tasmania at this time; they are well advanced in ecotourism. He said that the tourism industry had to work harder to attract international visitors and this could start with an alliance between Victoria and Tasmania, States offering diverse tourism experiences. International visitors will get the best of Australian city life with Melbourne's arts and restaurant culture juxtaposed with the high-quality nature through this Victoria-Tasmania package. I want to quote Mr Charters:

'Melbourne has taken a really proactive position in relation to city-based tourism events and festivals and has been highly successful in performing in that market. If you look at Tasmania, it has really significant potential in ecotourism and nature-based activity. If you look at the proximity of the two States it is not really unreasonable to cover both bases strongly and work in some sort of southern Australia alliance.'

In the Examiner article he went on to say that we have the natural assets here in Tasmania. Now we need the investment and the infrastructure in the right places and from that jobs will follow and Tasmania will be building on our difference from the rest of Australia.