ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B (WRIEDT)
Thursday 21st June 2007
Mrs Smith (Chair)
Output group 1
1.1 Tourism marketing
INFORMATION CENTRES & PROMOTIONS
Mr FINCH - In respect of information centres - and I am sorry, I might have missed the first part of your answer to the member for Apsley - there is some concern in the industry over a reduction in funding to them and that some of those centres may close or change their function. Could I get an explanation of what is happening with information centres?
Ms WRIEDT - You are right, you did miss it. We have a new funding model and the new funding model has an increased pool of funding totalling some $300 000 and we have divided that new program up. What I was saying earlier was that it has been very gateway-centre based in the past.
The funding that we have provided has predominantly been to Devonport, Launceston, Burnie and Hobart and, given that there are 19 yellow 'i' centres around the State, we are trying to spread the money more widely and so we have a new TVIN visitor experience assistance program and that has different ranges of grants that they can apply for - for example, individual centre visitor servicing projects, so it might be a project to upgrade their IT for something specific. They can apply for between $2 000 and $5 000. Then there are regional visitor servicing projects where they can apply for grants between $10 000 and $25 000 and then there is the greater strategic visitor servicing ones where they can apply for between $30 000 to $100 000.
So we are trying to spread it more widely and in the program last year, for example, in 2006-07 for the visitor experience assistant program there were 17 of the 19 centres that received varying grants for different projects. For example, Deloraine received one to upgrade the Great Western Tiers web site. They received $5 000. George Town received $2 000 for a $3 000 project to have a new PC system. They wanted have a specific PC available for visitors to do their own bookings when they came into the centre. That will allow them to put a new booking system on-line. That is something where, for a very small investment in one of those yellow centres in a regional part of the State, you can make a significance difference to the way that they operate and the level of service that they can provide to the visitors.
Mr FINCH - Minister, what about specifically in my area, the Exeter centre? What is the status of that?
Ms WRIEDT - I am delighted to tell you that Exeter received
$5 000 as part of a $7 500 project to provide new and extended brochure displays. They did not have enough brochures and so were limited in the number of businesses that they could promote at the centre. Because they generate revenue from the brochure displays by charging operators, they were limited in the revenue that they could collect. So by putting $5000 towards that project we have tried to put them on a more sustainable footing by allowing them the extra space to generate more income for the future. They do not sound like large amounts but, when you put it in the context of the flow-on effects, they can be quite significant for those centres.
Mr FINCH - Are any of the information centres under threat of closing?
Ms WRIEDT - No.
CHAIR - You had funding to 17 of 19. There were two that did not apply or did not come up with the criteria?
Ms WRIEDT - Can we take that on notice?
CHAIR - Yes. If we could have an indication of those two.
Ms WRIEDT - I will have to check that I counted right. It was 18. I will have to find out which the one was. One either did not apply or did not meet the criteria. But we will find out which one.
CHAIR - So if you had a network client who applied and did not meet the criteria, do you have a process of going back and explaining why it did not fit the guidelines, so you can give them some education as to how they should improve their submission.
Ms WRIEDT - That is part of the service that Tourism Tasmania offers. The development people at the regional bodies would work with them as well. It doe not make sense for us not to, because we have the funding available and we want them to be able to use it. But we do have to have criteria, we cannot just give it out willy-nilly or else we are not going to get strategic benefits from it longer term. But we certainly do work with them.
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - Minister, I am aware that the tourism industry has been having an aggressive marketing campaign into Canada. Can you tell me if we have seen the benefits of that aggressive marketing campaign to date?
Ms WRIEDT - After the UK and Europe, North America as a whole - not just Canada, but the US as well - is our next biggest market. And we have certainly ramped up what we have been doing. In North America for example we took part in G'day USA for the first time this year and that was significant because we went in with a whole-of-Government approach, a whole-of-Tasmania approach, rather than just going in from a tourism angle as some of the other States did. There was ourselves; the Department Primary Industry, because we were highlighting devil facial tumour disease; the Department of Economic Development, because there were trade aspects to it; and we also had a partnership with the University of Tasmania, because they have some amazing contacts given their alumni in various parts of the United States. It was pretty overwhelming. We expected to go along and be the little fish in a very big pond and were surprised with the reception that we got and the level of understanding about Tasmania as a destination; the recognition and interest in what Tasmania has to offer. Just as an example, I had one-on-one meetings with various travel editors and at one meeting we sat down and the opening comment from a very senior travel editor for a group of high-profile travel magazines was, 'There is a real buzz about Tasmania; tell me about it' - the great D.D. We are seeing our visitor numbers up. Our north American visitors are up by 20 per cent for March 2007 compared to the previous March 2006 figure.
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - What was the cost of that project?
Ms WRIEDT - Tourism Tasmania spent about $30 000 on 'G'day USA'. Because we went in as part of a joint approach, we were able to share the costs with the other agencies. There is a fee to take part. It varies depending on the size of the State that is participating, so the larger States pay more, but for $30 000 Tasmania was repeatedly getting its name up there at nearly every function over the course of the 10 days. There were some where we had an absolutely Tasmanian focus. And even at others - for example, there was a function at the Natural History Museum in New York, which was a philanthropic dinner where a Tasmanian was talking about devil facial tumour disease. For no cost they let us put postcards of Tasmanian devils on all the seats. They had a chef that they had taken from Melbourne - and it would have been great to have a Tasmanian chef, but we had not paid additional money. This chef, Shannon Bennett from Vue de Monde, was interviewed at the start of the night about the five-course meal that he had prepared and within the first four sentences he said Tasmania twice, because he had flown over Tasmanian petunia trout and Tasmanian Spring Bay scallops to cook as part of this five-course menu. And that was an example where we kept getting that focus on us.
It was interesting that recently the President of Go Away Travel, which is a major travel company in Canada –
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - Bruce Hodge.
Ms WRIEDT - Yes, or Saint Bruce, as we like to call him. Recently I met him in Brisbane at another tourism event and he made the comment that New Zealand Tourism paid him to go over to speak at a major conference in New Zealand and he went over and told them that Tasmania was basically –
Mrs RATTRAY-WAGNER - A threat to their tourism, Minister.
Ms WRIEDT - That is right, and we had not paid him for those comments, I can assure you. You can imagine they were not too happy and wanted to revoke his fee or something after that. But that was an independent commentator talking about the inroads that we have been able to make in the Canadian marketplace. There is an event ' G'Day Toronto'. Part of the reason for this success is that we have a very good Tourism Tasmania manager based in Toronto. Daryl Hudson has been with Tourism Tasmania for about seven years and he has extensive networks right throughout the States and Canada and is very highly regarded. In fact during the course of 'G'Day USA' I people came up to me and said, 'One of your biggest assets is Daryl Hudson because of the way that he works'. Travel agents are very complimentary about what he does. He has been using on-line technology to really engage travel agents in a way that other States have not.
It is not just 'G'Day USA'. It is a culmination of a lot of work that has gone on over a number of years.