Tasmania as a global leader in responsible and sustainable tourism

In the short term our first priority is to drive demand and rebuild businesses, supporting Tasmania’s tourism and hospitality operators and our workforce.

In shaping the recovery of Tasmania’s visitor economy over the next two years we are committed to a longer-term vision to be a global leader in responsible and sustainable tourism. We also understand the structure of tourism in Tasmania will need to adjust to changing needs and our long-term aspirations.

This means prioritising initiatives that are just as important in recovery as for the longer term.

Our long-term aspirations are:

  • Growing visitation to Tasmania that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable
  • Putting our regional towns and destinations at the heart of the Tasmanian visitor experience
  • Growing a skilled Tasmanian tourism workforce
  • Supporting Tasmanian Aboriginal People in sharing culture and history
  • Fostering Tasmanian creativity and entrepreneurialism
  • Positioning Tasmania as a global example of sustainable tourism
  • Responsible stewardship of our protected areas
  • Telling the Tasmanian story and celebrating who we are
  • Economic, profitable and sustainable businesses
  • Putting community at the heart of the future of our destinations
  • Fostering diversity and the next generation of industry leaders.
  • Four immediate priorities have been identified as follows for the recovery and rebuild of Tasmania’s visitor economy.

Priority 1: Rebuilding visitation

Tasmania is well positioned in a world where people are feeling uncertain, more constrained and want to get back to something real.

It is more important than ever to understand the changed market and our consumers. We must not assume that what we knew before remains true.

To restore the value of tourism to Tasmania by the end of 2022, we will double-down on our competitive strengths as a visitor destination.

To support our demand generation and visitor experience in recovery we will focus on several key areas.

  • Tasmania’s natural environment
  • Our home-grown festivals and events
  • Drive holidays and Tassie road trips
  • Uniquely Tasmanian operators and experiences
  • Playing to our creative strengths.

Underpinning these areas of focus is a whole-of-state destination marketing strategy supporting our highly desirable brand proposition.

Priority 2: Restoring access

As an island destination, air and sea access will always be the lifeblood of Tasmanian tourism.

Over the past two decades we have enjoyed increased air services and direct routes. We had a growing visitor economy as a result and Tasmanians enjoyed greater travel options at more competitive prices.

Restoring our aviation network as quickly as possible and maintaining it is critical as the tourism industry and state recover. This will not be easy. The aviation industry is experiencing its greatest global crisis and competition for air capacity will be intense as all states seek to support their own recovery.

In recent years, TT-Line has also achieved record passenger numbers and will be an essential enabler for recovery. Visitors who travel on the Spirit of Tasmania ferries stay longer, spend more and travel further than those who travel by air. Our state-owned ships are a point of difference for Tasmania. Heightened health and safety concerns of travellers is likely to result in a shift to touring holidays and a dedicated touring campaign will position Tasmania well, along with investment in roads to support regional access.

Priority 3: Supporting our people

Business owners

As borders closed and other restrictions were imposed to contain COVID-19, demand in the tourism and hospitality sector virtually dried up overnight. Our business owners needed immediate support and all levels of government and our industry associations responded with measures that targeted cash flow, financial relief and expert help to adapt to the uncertain environment.

We have seen a remarkable response from our operators, including retaining staff at a cost to their business, and innovation at a product and business level. This is testament to the character of our sector.

We must not forget the personal impact of this pandemic on our business owners. As they are our people, and the backbone of our communities, ongoing support for their wellbeing is important.

The environment remains unstable. The scale and continuing nature of the pandemic means that operators will pass through several critical periods as borders may open and close in response to quarantine requirements. For example, the end of government support programs and seasonality of demand will test them and the capacity of their business to sustain operations through recovery.

Workforce

One of our great achievements over the past few years has been the jobs that tourism and hospitality have generated for Tasmanians across the state. This has shaped perceptions within our communities of the value of tourism. Before COVID-19, tourism supported 17.4% of all jobs (direct and indirect) in our state (Tourism Satellite Accounts 2018-19, Tourism Research Australia).

However, our sector faced workforce challenges before the pandemic. The labour and skills supply has not kept pace with the rapid growth in demand, it has not been able to compete with other growing parts of the economy, and there were skills gaps in the crucial sectors of hospitality, cookery and accommodation services.

Employers, training providers and government have not been able to adequately respond to labour and skills shortages. Industry was also concerned about the accessibility and quality of training to meet the needs of employers — and all within the context of uncertainty created by national reform of the structure and direction of the vocational training sector.

The impacts of COVID-19 present us with considerably more challenges that exacerbate the immediate and long-term:

  • Many in our industry have lost their jobs, been stood down or had their hours reduced and remain uncertain about the future. We risk losing talented Tasmanians from our industry as many shift their transferable skills to other growing sectors. Tourism and hospitality may seem a less attractive career in light of COVID-19.
  • Foreign workers have filled many gaps in unskilled and seasonal work. With international travel bans likely to remain for some time we are already seeing a widening gap between labour supply and demand, particularly in some regional destinations.
  • Apprenticeship commencements in hospitality — the core to building a skilled workforce — have virtually ceased.

We have very clear priorities to support our current workforce through this period of uncertainty and remain connected with industry through reskilling, retraining and new job opportunities as they emerge. This will lay the framework for progressing long-term workforce needs.

Priority 4: Shaping the future

Through our recovery we will prioritise initiatives that will establish Tasmania as a global leader in responsible and sustainable tourism. We are determined not to lose sight of the aspirations identified in the consultation for the 10-year vision by industry and other visitor economy stakeholders. These will position us for a strong future and increase our contribution to Tasmania and its people.

Tasmanian Aboriginal people

Tasmania/lutruwita’s 40,000 years of continuous Aboriginal heritage is unique, enduring, and central to our shared Tasmanian story.

Tourism is an opportunity for Aboriginal people to share their culture, heritage and deep connection with their lands with visitors to Tasmania/lutruwita. This can create economic and employment opportunities for Aboriginal people, increase knowledge of and respect for Tasmania’s Aboriginal culture and heritage, and enrich the Tasmanian visitor experience.

The Tasmanian tourism industry and the Tasmanian Government is committed to working with Aboriginal people on practical strategies to grow the community’s role within our visitor economy. We have achieved some positive momentum over the past few years with genuine cultural exchanges between Aboriginal people, the tourism industry and our visitors. We have welcomed the emergence of exciting new indigenous visitor experiences and enterprises. We are determined to build on this momentum and foster a shared vision for a vibrant Aboriginal tourism sector in Tasmania.

Climate change

The tourism industry response to climate change is ambitious and genuine in its goal for Tasmania to be a carbon-neutral destination. This is aligned with the Tasmanian Government Climate Action 21 agenda. There are practical measures we can introduce quickly and more complex challenges over the longer term to achieve this goal. That pathway requires research into the costs, benefits and the value proposition of this goal for Tasmania.

Inclusive tourism

People with disability make up almost 20% of Australia’s population and about 15% of the world’s population. With an ageing population, the proportion of Australian travellers with mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive disabilities is expected to increase. In Australia, about 75% of people with disability regularly travel and there is little difference between people with or without disability when it comes to motivations for travel, the way travel decisions are made, and where to travel.

Consultation has been undertaken with representatives of the disability sector to realise Tasmania as a leader in innovative and inclusive tourism experiences over the longer term, and we will progress several important actions during recovery.

Cruise ships

Over the past decade Tasmania has emerged as a highly desirable cruise destination. While visiting cruise ships have been highly valued by many sectors of the tourism industry and broader economy, there have been concerns expressed about the scale of growth, and future projections.

With considerable uncertainty about the immediate future of the cruise market in Australia, now is an opportunity for Tasmania to understand the potential market demand of cruise ships to the state and the value of this sector.

A tourism network for the future

COVID-19 has created uncertainty in our community, in our industry and in our markets. Understanding what is different and being agile with our strategy will allow us to meet the changing needs of customers and stakeholders.

Our customer must remain our core focus, with consideration of the value they bring to our community, our industry and how they interact with our environment and this place we call home.

The Tasmanian visitor economy has been the envy of the nation and our governance and tourism network has supported its success. However, our market growth in recent years has masked some vulnerabilities and limitations with that structure.

We have the opportunity now to be more purposeful in our destination management, in designing the tourism system to optimise recovery and for our future. We need to be well connected, informed and deliberate about the actions we take to shape our future — a future that is about growing our industry for the benefit of our community.

We also need to encourage the next generation of tourism leaders at all levels of the industry. They will take our industry forward and realise our true potential as one of the world’s exceptional visitor destinations.