Tuesday 10 September 2019

Hansard of the Legislative Council
Regional Tourism Opportunities


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, just a couple of facts to begin with.

Of all workers in Tasmania, 8.7 per cent are employed in the tourism industry.  That is higher than the national average, which sits at 8 per cent - one in 13 of all Australian workers.  We are doing well but, of course, there is always scope for more improvement.

Tasmania's iconic tourism attractions, such as Cradle Mountain, Port Arthur and Wineglass Bay, are well known and well developed, but apart from these iconic attractions, most economic benefits are centred in and around major cities.  It is time for more work in regional areas.  Regional tourism was one of the subjects discussed at a recent forum in Launceston.  The Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Northern Tasmania, Chris Griffin, has emailed me a number of points from the forum.

He says practices both love places to death but work against visitors being made aware of regional places, which are often desperate for business.

Mr Griffin speaks of a two-speed economic visitor economy, with communities and councils struggling to invest in infrastructure and services with often static or negative growth in visitor numbers.

He says supply and demand are not in sync because investment cycles tend to hit their peak a few years after visitor growth hits its peak, resulting in a repeating cycle of oversupply and undersupply.

Mr Griffin stresses the importance of visitors bringing both social and economic returns to our regional communities.  By positioning a destination on what makes it special, a community can affirm pride in itself and, through that pride, host its visitors well.

Tourism creates jobs that can hold communities together, especially families.  Young people gain employment in their home town or have casual work to attract them home while studying elsewhere.

New tourism business can attract working-age families into regional places, which, in turn, can attract or retain essential services that would otherwise be lost.

While much still needs to be done in the regions, there are emerging examples of success, such as mountain biking, as I am sure the member for McIntyre can attest -

Ms Rattray - Not personally - I am not a mountain biker, but I see a lot of other people enjoying the sport.

Mr FINCH - No, that is right - the Meander Valley short walks, with Meander Valley looking to be the short walk capital of Tasmania; food and wine; golf, being a big attractant to Tasmania; and cruise ship visits, particularly to my electorate of Rosevears.  Two cruise ships visited Beauty Point last year and a further two are expected this coming summer, with many more on the horizon.  These are very important for my community.

Apart from great scope to develop tourism away from the icons, there are opportunities to attract visitors between May and October.  I point out the Junction Arts Festival has just concluded and, again, has been super successful.

We have, of course, the Hawthorn footy weekends and Restaurant Tasmania, which have a strong focus on getting people out and about during May and October.

Ms Forrest - I did not see you at Junction.

Mr FINCH - No, well, some people are a little busy in their electorates, doing work and it keeps them - 'You know what I mean', he says with a furrowed brow.

I am super impressed with the Junction Arts Festival.  I received invitation after invitation, which I did not respond to -

Ms Rattray - You cannot go to everything.

Mr FINCH - Tourism Northern Tasmania, in partnership with the City of Launceston, major event venues, Events Tasmania and others managed a very proactive program of bidding for and winning events to be hosted in northern Tasmania.  These events included national sporting tournaments, and other participation events that complemented the good work of Business Events Tasmania and what they do in attracting conferences to the region.

I point out that in 2018-19 - the second year of the program - eight events bids were won, with the right to host these events during 2019-20.  Events already hosted in July and August this year include the under-15 AFL national tournament and the National Karate Championships.

The visitor spend generated by these eight events is expected to be $15.4 million, a great boost.

Two-thirds of all visitors to northern Tasmania come in the warmer months, and there is a perception on the mainland that Tasmania winters are unbearably cold.  This can be corrected, and haven't we - in between some of that cold weather - had some most glorious, sunshiny days?  It has been fabulous.

There is a strong argument to move away from the icons to other areas and concepts.  This is something that will be explored on Friday at a forum I will be hosting at MONA for the Tasmanian Leaders Program, which is called 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'.

I will leave members to apply one of those descriptors to me.