Tuesday 19 March 2019

Hansard of the Legislative Council

Australian Tourism Awards


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, if there were any doubts about the strength of the Tasmanian tourism industry, they were firmly dispelled in a marquee pitched over one of the biggest swimming pools in my electorate of Rosevears.

The occasion was the Australian National Tourism Awards announcements earlier this month.  The venue was the swimming pool at the Cataract Gorge First Basin, and the marquee over the drained swimming pool an inspired idea.  The gorge was a fitting venue for the tourism awards as it is probably Launceston's biggest tourism drawcard.

The member for Launceston during her time at the Launceston City Council was chair of the Cataract Gorge Reserve Advisory Committee.  As Launcestonians we accept how important the attraction is particularly for tourism, but also for the locals.  It is increasingly popular with visitors.  It is crowded on any sunny weekday, particularly at the moment because our famed peacocks have a lot of chicks, which is creating much interest especially among our Asian visitors for their photography.

The new play area for children is an attraction well worth taking the kids to when you visit Launceston or if you are a local.  Eight tourism awards went to Tasmanian businesses in front of 840 of the most influential tourism operators in Australia.  Port Arthur Historic Site won two gold medals, partly because of its new visitor centre.

Tasmania came third in the overall national medal tally.  Tourism Tasmania Chief Executive Officer John Fitzgerald said if there had been another award, it would have been to the City of Launceston to honour its role in helping to organise the award ceremony.  It was a beautiful Friday evening - the member for Launceston was there - and it was a glorious day to highlight Launceston and Tasmania to those special guests from around Australia.  The gorge looked absolutely spectacular.

At some stage, we have all have had difficulty juggling a plate of canapes and a glass of wine, but there was no problem at the awards due to an inspired idea of wooden platters for each guest.  The platters had a slot at one end to hold the wine and room for the canapes and hors d'oeuvres.  The City of Launceston's community economic development manager, Tracey Mallett recognised the problem of eating canapes, balancing a drink, holding your mobile phone and trying to shake hands with other people you have not met for a while when outside on the lawns at the First Basin.  The idea for the canape boards came up and two local men's sheds went to work.  The canape boards are rectangular, crafted from Tasmanian oak meticulously stained with a high-grade sealer donated by a local company that became aware of the project. 

The 2018 Australian Tourism Awards event director Rick Marton saluted that terrific idea, but also says on a budget designed for a conference venue, they actually build the awards site literally from the ground up.  He said Tasmanian companies worked together to deliver this spectacular production.  They were essentially having an opening night for a new restaurant, but instead of 30 or 40 guests, there were 840.  The challenge was to take on all the negative parameters that might surround an issue like this.  They did not even have a kitchen on site and a separate marquee was put up alongside.  Imagine that for the chefs and the caterers.

It was one of those times where if things are going to go wrong, they will, but I tell you it went like clockwork and the most important thing was the Tasmanian spirit shone through the whole event.  How proud we were to be in that venue and to see everything work like clockwork.  Rick said if anyone thought they played a small part in the event, they were actually a critical part.  He dealt directly with over 400 people.  Of course, those people then had to deal with other people, so it was a real solid community event for Launceston, northern Tasmania, and Tasmania.

The night at the National Tourism Awards demonstrated ingenuity, entrepreneurship and, above all, the very special Tasmanian cooperation.  With whose skills our tourism industry certainly cannot fail.