Talking Point:

Vin landscape

Our best local experiences will help inspire tourism growth

THE tourism and visitor industry is vitally important to the Tasmanian economy, contributing significantly to our way of life, particularly in our regional communities.

In southern Tasmania, we have experienced sustained growth in both the number of arrivals and their contribution to our visitor economy in recent years.

Ambitious tourism targets have been set by both industry and government. But we are now aware that continued effort and investment to improve the range and quality of experiences on offer is required if these are to be achieved. The responsibility for creating demand and marketing Tasmania lies with both industry and government.

However, improving the experience visitors have in the state is also a significant responsibility for local communities.

Attracting more visitors to our regional areas has been a significant focus and will remain a priority for Destination Southern Tasmania. By adding to the range and quality of experiences, we will continue to create demand, grow the visitor economy, and increase regional employment.

Into the future, as the significant new accommodation comes online in Hobart, our visitors will need more to do.

In recent years, the Tasmanian “experience” has become much more diverse and sophisticated, be it experiencing nature, the arts or events. But with a significant number of tourists now repeat visitors, it is critical we offer new experiences to attract them back again, with quality accommodation in appealing locations.

Southern Tasmania, like the rest of the state, has opportunities for investment in new experiences in wilderness locations through the State Government’s Expression of Interest process. And importantly, there are new accommodation proposals in some of the regions. There is no doubt that strategic investment by the State Government and by investor-developers has contributed significantly to creating the necessary demand for Tasmania. We must continue to attract this investment and provide planning certainty for innovative proposals.

However, it is now the challenge for each community, particularly in the regional areas, to enhance the visitor experience in each of their towns. Government too, must assist, by providing the necessary infrastructure to facilitate visitor access to attractions.

Two initiatives — the Government’s Visitor Engagement Strategy and Destination Action Plans for each identified district in the region — are addressing these issues. The Strategy identifies how visitors can be guided around the state in ways that increase the quality of their experience from the moment they arrive, how to engage with locals, our landscapes, our experiences and our stories.

The Destination Action Plans, developed by each community, are aimed at local businesses and community organisations recognising their own, local tourism objectives.

Achieving this requires leadership from industry organisations, local government and each local community. Destination Southern Tasmania is working closely with each locality to encourage a commitment to providing the best experience possible for every visitor to the town.

A key element of success is having community leadership to co-ordinate everyone to show pride in their town, encouraging a longer stay, and reaping the benefits of more visitors for the whole community.

It is worth remembering that visitors use a wide range of public and private investment and infrastructure as well as public assets in each area they visit.

This provides an extension to the scope and scale of built attractions and hospitality that would not normally be available to the local community if they were solely reliant on patronage from those who live nearby.

Growth in the visitor economy will contribute significantly to the state economy and our ability to create revenue and provide additional community services.

The same applies in each of our local communities. The framework now exists for each community to help improve experiences for visitors, and maximise the benefits of the visitor economy for their own people.

Vin Barron is chairman of Destination Southern Tasmania.