Tuesday 24 May 2011 - Part 1
Hansard of the Legislative Council
TOURISM SELECT COMMITTEE – NOTING OF THE REPORT
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Motion) - Madam President, I move -
That the Legislative Council Select Committee report on tourism
in Tasmania be considered and noted.
Madam President, I take this opportunity to welcome our new
members to the House, the members for Rumney, Derwent and
Launceston - not necessarily in that order - and also to congratulate
the member for Murchison for her re-election unopposed. What
a lovely ring that has to it.
In moving this motion in my name, Madam President, I want
to refer to the latest state of the industry report from Tourism
Australia and I think it says it all. The Australian tourism
industry has been affected by the global financial crisis,
the strength of the Australian dollar, greater competition
in Asia and more Australians travelling abroad rather than
within Australia more than ever before. The whole of the Australian
tourism industry has seen a significant downturn in domestic
tourism numbers. In fact, according to the state of the industry
report Australia's tourism industry has been losing market
share since the year 2000 so this report on the Tasmanian
tourism industry, which I want to bring to the attention of
the House, is timely, to say the least.
I want to quote from the conclusion of that national report,
'The Australian tourism industry is a significant part of
the Australian economy. It is not just a leisure-based activity,
rather an industry which generates substantial income and
employment, and disperses this activity and associated benefits
widely throughout Australia.
However, tourism in an industry that has faced significant
challenges. During this past decade, domestic travel by Australians
has declined, contrasting the rapid growth of outbound travel.
Growth in international arrivals to Australia slowed considerably
since 2000 compared to the previous two decades.
This report has identified some clear drivers of these outcomes.
The strength of the Australian dollar and the rapid expansion
of international aviation capacity have underpinned much of
the industry's performance over the past decade. However,
for Australia's largest market, domestic travel by Australians,
it is also clear that the Australian tourism experience is
no longer as compelling as it once was. Nor is domestic tourism
competing as effectively as it could against other forms of
The competitive environment facing the tourism industry will
continue to be intense. The industry is likely to face significant
new challenges. However, with these challenges there will
also be new opportunities for growth.'
That is the end of the quote from that national report and,
I might say, a somewhat depressing national picture. But there
are some differences from the national norm here in Tasmania.
Our workforce is even more dependent on tourism than the national
average. Nationally tourism accounts for 4.5 per cent of employment
- that is 486 000 direct jobs. In Tasmania the figure is 6.1
per cent. The other major difference is that Tasmania is different.
We have a unique built and natural heritage, we have advantages
that the rest of Australia does not have. We have attractions
for visitors found nowhere else in the world. But we have
to be constantly examining and reviewing ways to bring Tasmania's
advantages to the attention of potential visitors.
Madam President, Tourism Australia's State of the Industry
Report, which has been compiled over the past 12 months, as
I mentioned, makes somewhat depressing reading. But it is
looking at the short term. We should be looking much further
ahead and planning much further ahead also.
An international tourism summit in Las Vegas in the United
States last week was told that there is a potential travel
gold rush ahead because about 2 billion new, middle-class
consumers are expected to come into the market from emerging
powerhouses of China, India and Brazil in the next two decades.
The Chief Executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council,
David Scowsill, told the conference:
'The growth of China outbound travel is moving at a huge pace.
It is about a 20 per cent increase every year. The number
of outbound Chinese travellers hit 58 million last year.'
CEOs from many of the world's biggest travel companies and
the top tourism officials were asked at the Las Vegas conference
whether they were ready to absorb the predicted massive increase
in growth. Were governments ready with infrastructure? Were
private investors ready with investment? Madam President,
Tasmania needs to be ready to fight for its share of that
predicted travel surge.
But let us come back to the present. Our committee heard some
highly relevant evidence and much of it was reflected in our
conclusions and recommendations. But there is rarely enough
room in a report like this to highlight everything. However,
as well as the final report, the new Minister for Tourism
also has access to a record of all the hearings and I hope
that he will be able to take this into account as he continues
to read himself into the portfolio. I think there will be
a lot of assistance for him in his new role.
Of particular interest, but which could have had more of a
run in the final report, was the submission from Business
Events Tasmania. I want to highlight it because that is a
relatively new name for the Tasmanian Convention Bureau which
says it is working to get people to come to Tasmania to experience
not just sitting at a conference in a hall having a meeting
but also getting out and experiencing some of Tasmania's really
good tourist attractions.
As Chairman of Business Events Tasmania, Tony Hart, told the
committee, this is also a particularly high-yield business
which is very attractive to the industry. In terms of international
business events it is only a small part of our make-up but
it is something that we are looking at ongoing to attract
more delegates in this area.
We heard of the importance of business events to the tourism
sector in Tasmania. It will bring 25 000 delegates to Tasmania
this year with an estimated basic value of $31.1 million,
with an extra $11 million because it is estimated that delegates
will spend more time in Tasmania at the end of their conference.
Tourism Tasmania's figures on those who visited Tasmania for
conventions or seminars in 2010 showed a total of 30 700 -
really significant figures as far as the convention business
Business Events Tasmania does not believe that Tasmania needs
a new purpose-built conference centre at this stage, for a
number of reasons, but what is needed is more high-grade hotel
accommodation in both Hobart and Launceston.
I mentioned earlier what Tasmania has that is unique and that
includes our historic homes and sites. Last year's visitor
figures reinforced these as attractions. Tourism Tasmania's
research says that there were 916 600 visitors to Tasmania
last year, close to one million. The vast majority of these
figures were for holidays. Sixty-eight per cent of those visitors
to Tasmania last year visited historic homes. They went to
historic sites. They went to other historic attractions. That
is a total of 648 000 people. As the National Trust puts it:
'Tasmania's built and cultural heritage constitutes one of
the two key competitive advantages for the state's tourism
industry, (the state's other such advantage being temperate
wilderness) within the principal visitor markets of south-eastern
Australia. Multiple surveys and studies by Tourism Tasmania,
the commercial sector and even other competing Australian
visitor destinations have reaffirmed the primacy of these
two Tasmanian competitive advantages over the past decade.'
While the National Trust makes the important point about built
and cultural heritage it is disappointed by the attitude of
Tasmanian governments. I quote:
'The reality is that heritage and the contribution that heritage
can make to a vibrant tourism industry in Tasmania has been,
with a small number of notable exceptions, largely either
overlooked or ignored by both government and significant elements
of the tourism industry itself'.
Managing Director of the Tasmanian section of the National
Trust of Australia, Chris Tassell, says there is an enormous
reliance on community based organisations and initiatives
for the preservation and interpretation of Tasmania's heritage
assets. Mr Tassell says that one of the problems is that responsibility
for heritage - be it built, moveable and intangible - is spread
across a wide range of government agencies, which individually
are only responsible for the direct management of a small
part of the State's cultural heritage.
Mr Tassell says that in order for the contribution that cultural
heritage makes to Tasmania's tourism industry to be recognised
and to continue to develop there is a need for the effective
resourcing of the participants, both government and community-based.
I will quote Mr Tassell again:
'There is a need for targeted, practical support for community-based
organisations involved in the documentation and interpretation
of the State's heritage. The support should be focused on
allowing these organisations to articulate with and be more
directly involved with the Tasmanian tourism industry. In
aiming to achieve this objective it is critical that such
cost-effective support be directly targeted at the needs of
community organisations themselves. The National Trust would
welcome the opportunity of working with the Tasmanian Government
to achieve such an outcome'.
That is Mr Tassell of the National Trust with an opportunity
for the new tourism minister. It is quite interesting that
the National Trust in Tasmania has 465 hardworking volunteers
and they are rebuilding their membership. At the moment it
is at almost 2 000. I think about 13 or 15 years ago it was
at an all-time high of 5 000 but they would be looking to
rebuild to those numbers again.
Tasmania's food and wine industries may not be unique, but
their difference does make them an attraction for visitors.
Last year's Tourism Tasmania figures showed that 16 per cent
of all visitors visited wineries. Forty per cent visited a
local food producer.
We also hear a lot about wilderness and bushwalking. Last
year's figures showed that 70 per cent of all visitors to
Tasmania participated in day walks of varying duration. If
you add overnight walks you would presumably have an even
higher percentage, so walking in Tasmania is a strong part
of what locals and visitors do now and it will be a growing
opportunity in the future, and we highlight the development
of the Three Capes Walk in our report.
On the report itself, in seeking to have the tourism committee
established, our Chair, the former honourable member for Launceston
'As to how important, different people have different views,
but I regard it as one of the most important industries and
having enormous potential. The intent of this motion is to
appoint a select committee and to support tourism in this
State; to seek ways of promoting tourism in different ways
from the present, if appropriate; to seek ways of overcoming
any problems facing the tourism industry and individual operators;
to seek ways of assisting tourism to reach its full potential,
and, above all, to be positive and helpful, not negative.'
Mr Harriss - We could make the former member an ambassador
for tourism if we wanted to.
Mr FINCH - We could make him an ambassador for just about
everything. If I might digress just to talk again about Don
Wing, the former member for Launceston, yes, I think that
we have there a very special person. I think we will all reflect
upon our committee work and how strong a leader he was. His
guidance, wisdom and experience in the tourism industry helped
us fashion a good solid report reflected in that quote that
I have just given to the House. We will all reflect very fondly
on the development of this particular report.
I certainly hope that the new Minister for Tourism will be
able to digest this report and put a case for more - rather
than less - funding for tourism. I realise that it was restored
Mr Harriss - Footy in the south will help that.
Mr FINCH - That is where we diverge. I will not go down that
track, that is a debate for another time.
Mr Wilkinson - We are wearing blue and white already, you
Ms Rattray - Through you, Madam President - if we don't hurry
up and have a decision, they will be walking, I believe.
Mr FINCH - Yes, thank you. I knew we would digress further
than we really should, so thanks very much for that, the honourable
member for Huon.
Mr Parkinson - The honourable member for Huon and I have one
thing in common.
Mr FINCH - Madam President, I will try to continue. The report
has generally been well received by the industry. Launceston
members of the international tourism industry fellowship Sk�l
commend the report and the approach by the Legislative Council.
If I might quote from Sk�l's comments on the report, Madam
'Whilst we support and agree with most findings the most important
factor realised in the report is the recognition of the importance
to Tasmania of the Tourism Industry.
For too long the industry has not been accepted as an Export
Industry by Treasury and the Department of Economic Development
resulting in lack of support in development of tourism infrastructure
The National Export Marketing Development Grants has for many
years provided compensation to export promotion in recognition
of its involvement in the export industry and this should
be observed as an indication of its importance to export figures.
We are at present in a flux situation recognising that we
have a number of new personnel taking the reins of our industry
and we believe that time is necessary for them to evaluate
and propose new measures under which the industry can operate.
These representatives include Treasury, the Tourism Tasmania
Board Chairman and the new CEO, and the recent appointment
of a new CEO to the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania.'
Sk�l Tasmania also have some very constructive comments on
some of the conclusions in the report, which affect Launceston;
for example, that the University of Tasmania Launceston campus
could be further utilised to promote international student
study and the TT-Line should be further supported as an integral
part of the mode of travel to Tasmania. Sk�l has a strong
comment on funding:
'Any reduction, particularly at this stage, of the Tourism
budget, considering the Queensland floods etc that have seen
more marketing dollars injected into their promotions, will
be highly detrimental to the return of the tourism industry
figures of recent years. This is a critical time for the budget
to increase rather than be reduced.'
Just in case you were wondering whether there was any comment
on the silt, Madam President, in the letter from Sk�l yes,
there was. It sees the problem of siltation in the upper Tamar
as having a detrimental effect on the way visitors see Launceston.
The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania says it strongly
supports many of the key findings in this report. TICT Chief
Executive Luke Martin says it is imperative that the State
Government at least maintain the current level of spending
on tourism marketing and promotion and if I could quote Mr
'The select committee has acknowledged that tourism benefits
almost every business in the State and that in this case you
have to spend money to make money. We recognise that the Government
has some hard decisions to make in the coming Budget but there
should not be any reduction in tourism marketing and promotion.'
That is the end of quote but Mr Martin has said that the industry
has long advocated that the Government could increase efficiency
and get better results by ensuring Tourism Tasmania focused
more on its core responsibility of attracting more visitors.
One of the key recommendations, that there should be a body
separated from the State bureaucracy operating independently
and solely as a marketing company similar to Tourism New Zealand,
is backed by the Tourism Industry Council provided that it
is adequately funded. Again, I will quote Mr Martin:
'We agree that if Tourism Tasmania is restructured then the
Government must establish a tourism unit within the Department
of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts and to provide
it with tourism policy advice and research support.
We agree fully that the importance of tourism to the Tasmanian
economy is underrated and people need to be made more aware
of how visitor expenditure benefits every sector.'
Those are some of the Tourism Industry Council's views, Madam
A couple of things - and not wanting to steal the thunder
of other members from the committee who might want to contribute
to the report - that stand out for me and, firstly, every
Tasmanian whether in the tourism industry or not has a role
to play in promoting Tasmania and welcoming and helping visitors.
Every Tasmanian is a tourism ambassador. Everyone should be
aware that a friendly smile and a helpful approach enhance
the experience of any visitor.
I will quote from one of our recommendations:
'An awareness campaign be conducted to impress upon all Tasmanians
the importance of tourism to our economy and employment, as
well as the role they can play in promoting Tasmania and in
welcoming and assisting visitors to our State.'
That is one of our recommendations.
I was one of the three members who went to New Zealand to
have a look at their tourism industry. They are doing several
things better than we are and we could learn from New Zealand.
The things that really stood out were that in New Zealand,
Tourism New Zealand is a body separated from the State bureaucracy.
It can react much more quickly to changing circumstances and
one of the recommendations is that the Tasmanian Government
separates Tourism Tasmania from the State bureaucracy to enable
it to operate independently and solely as a marketing company
similar to Tourism New Zealand.
The committee also looked closely at how the Internet can
help our tourism industry and we concluded that more should
be done in Tasmania. I will quote from our conclusions:
'The internet continues to have a significant impact on tourism,
resulting in the need for new destinational marketing strategies,
the use of online booking websites and the growth of social
online media as a marketing tool.'
Also many Tasmanian tourism operators are yet to embrace the
Internet and this is likely to adversely affect the viability
of their businesses and also limit the potential for growth
Ms Rattray - Through you, Madam President - was that point
supported by the former member who wasn't really IT savvy?
Mr FINCH - He agreed that everybody else should do it and
not necessarily personally.
Mr Hall - Quite right too; the Speaker takes that line as
Mr FINCH - That is right, yes. Our impression in New Zealand
was that the Internet was being used more efficiently and
effectively than here in Tasmania although my impression also
was that we are doing fairly well with our embracing of the
Internet. There is rapidly developing potential in social
media. It is not just a way of marketing to young people but
certainly to a wider public. The problem, of course, is keeping
up with its incredibly rapid development.
Social media develops almost daily. But it must be realised
that while all forms of social media can be used as a promotional
tool it is primarily a form of peer-to-peer communication.
It was interesting the number of people that we talked to
on our trip who do, in fact, do the texting all the time and
contacting their friends, talking about their experience and
certainly recommendations to social media websites.
Finally, I have always thought that we do not do enough for
backpackers. For many reasons this is a vital sector of our
tourism industry and fits with Tasmania's image as a place
for adventure and wilderness experiences. If I might quote
from our recommendations, 'the Tasmanian Government, through
Tourism Tasmania, undertake a review of the backpacker sector
to maximise its potential as a niche market'.
In our report in all there are 32 recommendations. I think
they demonstrate that while our hands might be tied because
of world factors beyond our control, there is plenty that
we can do to sustain and grow this very important Tasmanian
I ask members to support the motion to note this report.