Tuesday 18 June 2019

Hansard of the Legislative Council
Skål International Launceston and Osaka


[11.06 a.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, today I am going to talk about the twinning arrangement between Skål International Launceston and Skål International Osaka.

Skål, meaning cheers or good health in Scandinavian, is a professional organisation of tourism leaders from around the world that promotes global tourism and friendship.  It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry.  Its members are industry managers and executives who meet at local, national, regional and international levels to discuss and pursue topics of common interest.

The first club was founded in 1932 in Paris and Skål International today has approximately 15 000 members in 370 clubs in 83 nations.

Several months ago, I attended a Skål Launceston lunch where the guest speaker was Jo Breen, who with Peter Brooks - both from West Tamar - sailed in the Melbourne to Osaka yacht race held every five years.  Skål Launceston was one of the sponsors and took that opportunity to connect with its colleagues in Osaka.  As it was my intention to travel back to Tasmania from the Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize pilgrimage via Osaka I offered to help cement that relationship by also connecting with their people.  What a surprise awaited me.  It was arranged for me to meet with their executive - President, Ms Yong Sook Lee; Vice President, Masahiko Torii; Auditor, Mr Tomihisa Ito; and Secretary and Treasurer, Tae Kawasaki. The meeting took place on the 57th floor of the Osaka Marriott Hotel, the tallest building in Japan.  Meeting these people was a highlight of Jo Breen's and my trip in Osaka.  I was pleased to read a letter from the Premier written especially for this moment at the dinner -

I am pleased to be able to provide this letter to the Hon. Kerry Finch MLC in recognition of the support he is providing to Skål Launceston in pursuit of a twin‑club agreement with Skål Osaka.  Tasmania has enjoyed a long and successful connection to Japan and the partnering of these two Skål Clubs is an excellent opportunity to further strengthen our ties.  Tourism is an important industry in Tasmania and local Skål Clubs are highly regarded by tourism and hospitality professionals across the State. 

As a member of Skål Hobart, I understand the value of the organisation and its role in connecting business operators and providing opportunities to share information and ideas.  Skål Launceston has established a strong membership that is representative of the diverse and growing tourism sector in northern Tasmania.

He went on to say -

The number of visitors from Japan is growing and we hope a partnership between Skål Launceston and Skål Osaka will encourage even more travel between the two destinations.

During the evening the main focus of discussion was integrated resorts, which are being developed in Japan to attract people for family recreation and sport holidays.  I talked to Skål Osaka that night about the Country Club Tasmania resort in Launceston and how it developed its attractions.  That certainly attracted the interest of the Skål Osaka executive.

There is no doubt that members on the Japanese side have much to offer Tasmania in terms of contacts in Japan and north-east Asia.  Their members represent top hotel chains and are really at the front line of contacts for the who's who of the Asian, Indonesian and Pacific regions.

This is not just as a result of Osaka being a major city and international sea and air hub, but also because Japan is probably one of the easiest countries in Asia to collaborate with and establish on-the-ground business interaction and trade.  In some ways, Osaka may seem a world away from Tasmania.  On the contrary, Tasmania has much to offer from its journey through tourism in the last 40 to 50 years - branding, nature-based tourism, developing premium destinations, excellent food and wine products, as well as event managing and management.  Tasmania can hold its head high.

There are plenty of opportunities coming up to showcase Osaka and Japan.  There are the Olympics in 2020, and in 2025 there will be the chance to show off Japanese technology, with the World Expo being held for the second time in Osaka.  By the way, wellness tourism is well and truly on the radar as far as Osaka is concerned.  With this twinning relationship we are offered a chance of a constructive two-way flow of ideas and experience.  Well done, Skål International.

A return air trip from Launceston to Osaka is $838.  Sayonara.