The Evolving Tasmanian Tourism Industry

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Occasionally it requires a pioneer and an innovator to unify us to grab new potential opportunities. Hobart’s new Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) established by gambler turned artwork promoter David Walsh has accomplished this. Seven years on from when MONA was opened to international acclaim, there is new life and a sense of newfound vitality in Tasmania’s capital and also the imagination is flowing through different areas of the Apple Isle.

There is a growing investment in Tasmanian infrastructure with Hobart sporting multiple cranes and frannas. This boost in infrastructure contains a runway expansion that provides better reach for global export markets and the agricultural industry is recovering, because of a weaker dollar.

Besides being the main attraction for nearly half of the Tasmania’s increasing number of first-time tourists, MONA has curated popular festivals like MONA FOMA (Festival of Music and Arts) and Dark Mofo.

MONA has shifted Australia’s perspective of Tasmania. MONA has raised expectations among Tasmanians of what is possible and that is extending to the north which is epitomised by the rise and development of new restaurants and resorts, particularly the growth of Hobart’s luxury accommodation market.

Upon the growing amount of all Tasmanians returning to their origins, many of them have observed the change in Tasmania’s fortunes. This is reflected in an annual financial report for the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which shows the drop in the exchange rate is very important to agriculture, as it has helped propel the rise in tourism. Agriculture, tourism, health care, IT and healthcare providers are doing well with positive confidence in business.

Tourism contributes approximately $2.79 billion or 10.7 percent to Gross State Product and about 37,400 employment opportunities, around 15 percent of overall employment with an increase of boutique hotels in Hobart and the greater popularity of tourism areas.

Improved investment in local irrigation, and the dairy industry has helped enhance the agricultural industry. It is a noticeable change to the scenery as you travel along the Midlands highway between Launceston and Hobart.

Other work and investment that has been achieved include work by the Office of the Coordinator General such as attracting investment opportunities, handling major projects, implementing a data centre action strategy as well as limiting the regulatory liability worn by Tasmanian businesses.

In Launceston there is a population of 106,000 with expectations of a similar revival climbing following the announcement of programs from the University of Tasmania to create a brand new $260m riverside campus in Inveresk, opposite the CBD. It is projected that it will provide 430 positions of employment during construction from crane hire firms to timber suppliers and will attract around 10,000 pupils and increase opportunities for the area through education.

The areas award-winning Harvest Launceston farmers’ market has also spawned a growing assembly of local food, wine and produce companies. This market trend started in 2012, after the collapse of the Gunns timber company and the heavy loss of employment positions.

As a result of this has Fermentation Tasmania has emerged, a non-profit firm that intends to facilitate new product development, carry out research on fermentation, align with education institutions to develop training and skills and facilitate tourism along fermentation paths.

Tasmania still has plenty work to do in order to continue to boost its regional growth, which therefore needs relevant systems and governance that are firm in their processes, regional champions and cultural investment. TasFoods is constructing a larder of luxury food brands in supplying for both export and domestic markets.

Hard times

Tasmania’s north-west has found it rough going in recent times with the decrease in local mining as well as also the likes of Caterpillar shifting its production overseas. Caterpillar nevertheless has 200-plus highly skilled workers in Tasmania and there was great use of the University of Tasmania in coaching and assisting employees in finding new jobs.

Recently, the biggest problems in Tasmanian government have been found to be taxation, pub gambling machines, healthcare and schooling and education. It is worth noting that Tasmanian 15-year-olds are currently the nation’s worst performing pupils in maths, literacy and science.

Tasmania underspends on healthcare and its allocation to preventative health is one of the smallest in the nation. Greater levels of educational participation and success is likely to make a large difference in improving Tasmania’s financial performance with this finally coming back to the fact that Tasmania has Australia’s least-educated inhabitants and aged population.

The Tasmanian government has achieved a balance with the state’s financing as it currently does not have net debt and has helped revive business confidence. The big question going forward is: how sustainable will this growth be?