18th October 2012


Legislative Council




Building on Tourism


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - It is a fact of life or economics that most industries and markets are cyclical.  They have ups and downs, and they have booms and busts.  We know that, and sometimes we can predict that cycle and we can compensate; sometimes we cannot, but mostly you ride with the wave when it is there and continue.  It is hard to name a Tasmanian industry that is not subject to this cyclical characterisation; mining, agriculture, forestry, and particularly tourism which I want to talk about today.


As we know, it is suffering a cyclical downturn for various reasons.  So is Tasmania's forestry industry and without that structural change and new ideas, it could be unlikely to catch that next wave - if there is one for the industry.


If I were a gambling man I would put my money on Tasmania's tourism industry.  The balance of the world's economy is changing.  We talk a lot about China and India leading that transition to their vast middle class populations.


Ms Rattray - The combined population is about $2.4 billion people.


Mr FINCH - Vast middle classes will demand better diets, labour-saving consumer goods and travel.  It is already happening.  If you ride on the Cradle Mountain shuttle bus to Dove Lake, have a look at the number of Indian and Chinese visitors onboard.  The next wave for the tourism industry is already approaching.  Not so for forestry.  There has been a long debate in Tasmania on the importance of the forest industry and there is that comparison to tourism which I do not appreciate.  If figures released by the Australian Institute recently are to be believed, the forestry industry employs about 1 per cent of the Tasmanian workforce.  These figures are changeable, but the Australian Institute set the figure at 3 400 and it accounts for 9 per cent of exports.


Forestry, or at least wood and paper, ranks number four in Tasmanian export value behind mining, tourism, food products and manufactured goods.  Tourism is worth, according to their figures, $1.3 billion a year - almost equal to mining.


Our select committee, chaired by the member for Launceston, Don Wing, highlighted in our report, that in New Zealand they have a competition between the number one and number two spot between primary industry and tourism.  The country promotes tourism - more about that later.  We quoted in the report from the Tourism Industry Council CEO, Daniel Hanna, who said that Tasmanian's share of the state economy was greater than in any other Australian state.  Mr Hanna told the committee that tourism was directly 5 per cent of the gross state product and indirectly was 8.5 per cent of the gross state product.  Tourism employed 6.1 per cent directly and with indirect employment 11 per cent.


If the state government wanted to invest in a winner, I think it would be tourism.


That would be fine by my constituents on the West Tamar.  It is impossible to break out the figures on the importance of tourism in my electorate of Rosevears, as it is for the state.  I will give you those figures but it is difficult to get them, but it is not hard to see that it is one of our vital industries on the West Tamar.  It fits well with our growing wine industry and we have the great attraction of the beautiful Tamar River, as does the member for Windermere's electorate.  We could have a dispute on the value of the views - I submit that his view is much better because he can see a lot of Rosevears from where he is.


Promotional spending, marketing spending on tourism is one thing and we need it.  The enduring image of Tasmania as a tourist destination is a many-faceted thing.  Small business plays a major role, as does the community.  All the promotion dollars in the world will not help if visitors to Tasmania do not experience value for money, if they do not experience a warm welcome and a pleasant and memorable experience.


We in Tasmania are handed big things on a platter:  our wilderness, historical heritage, a clean, green environment and great food ingredients, but it is the little things that matter.  The restaurants, the cellar doors, the art, the craft outlets and our communities themselves, particularly the events that they create year round. 


One community event created in my electorate is called Artentwine.  It is being held this month organised by the West Tamar arts group to celebrate the region's natural and cultural heritage through the creativity of local people and communities.  This year individuals and more than 20 artists will be exhibiting their work in five vineyards where people can enjoy wines and tasting plates while viewing indoor and outdoor sculpture and art specifically commissioned for Artentwine, opened by the Minister for Tourism last weekend.


Over three consecutive weekends nine community halls will share their local stories, their history and their place through exhibitions, performance and other special events.  I opened an exhibition at Deviot where residents had submitted art pieces that were very special to them.  They presented their stories which were catalogued and that was exhibited at the Deviot hall - one of the little things that contributes to the region's attractiveness to the visitors.  All of these little things build up over years to establish this wonderful image of Tasmania and I hasten to point out that people are the important component of Tasmania's tourism situation and people have a role to play.