Tourism surges as medals roll in
Tasmania led the medal tally at the Australian Tourism Awards for a third year running in January and there was plenty of other positive news in the sector.
Among Tasmania's five gold medals, the Three Capes Track was judged the nation's best New Tourism Business and the success of this once heavily criticised project seemed inspirational.
Within days, an eco-lodge project at Crescent Bay on the Tasman Peninsula was back in the public conversation after being off the radar for nearly a decade.
And the Government had disclosed plans to acquire land on kunanyi/Mount Wellington to facilitate a long-planned and frequently attacked tourism cable car project.
As well, the Marriott group announced a $50 million hotel in the Hobart CBD, bringing to 1,200 the number of extra beds on the way in the city.
Aside from the booming Three Capes Track, Tasmania's award winners were:
Tourism Hall of Fame
- The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel
- The Tasmanian Walking Company (Ecotourism)
- Saffire Freycinet (Luxury Accommodation)
- The Old Woolstore (Business Event Venue)
- Riverfly 1864 (Specialised Tourism Services)
- Bruny Island Cruises (Tourist Attractions)
- Par Avion Wilderness Tours (Major Tour and Transport Operators)
- Pumphouse Point (Unique Accommodation)
- Avalon Coastal Retreat (Self-Contained Accommodation)
- Josef Chromy Wines (Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services)
- The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel (Deluxe Accommodation)
- Great Eastern Drive (Destination Marketing)
- Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service's Freycinet National Park (Major Tourist Attractions)
- Curringa Farm Accommodation (Hosted Accommodation)
The Chief Executive of the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, Luke Martin, said it was the third year in a row Tasmanian operators had won the most combined medals of any State or Territory.
“This tells us ... we are setting the benchmark," he said.
“I'm delighted by the gold medalists. Three Capes being named ... is a fitting endorsement of what is a world-class, outstanding visitor experience.”
Almost a decade after entrepreneur Dick Smith shelved his Crescent Bay eco-lodge proposal in frustration at opposition by local activists, the project was described as a "live development" by the Tasman Mayor, Roseanne Heyward.
Mr Smith sold the site to his son-in-law, James Baillie, last year.
Mr Baillie operates eco-lodge business Baillie Lodges and has met with Tasman Council to discuss a new Remarkable Lodge proposal.
Mayor Heyward said she expected the project would be considered by council once a building permit was submitted.
The Chairman of the Tourism Industry Council, Simon Currant, said: "This development epitomises every value that we promote and preserve in this State and it allows people to come and visit it and stay in the sort of surroundings and the way they want to be looked after.
"This actually gets more and more people supporting the preservation of our beautiful State."
The Premier, Will Hodgman, said the Government had decided to acquire land on kunanyi/Mount Wellington to remove an impediment to the Mt Wellington Cableway Company’s proposal.
He said the project had potential to bring significant investment to the State and to create new jobs both during construction and operations.
A Tasmanian Development Board committee had judged it to be a viable business proposition.
"The project hasn’t progressed because of an inability to address land consent issues with the Hobart City Council," Mr Hodgman said.
"After careful consideration, the Government has decided to prepare new laws to acquire the public land on kunanyi/Mt Wellington necessary for the project to proceed.
Mr Hodgman said the Government would not provide finance for the project.
"It will still need to attain all planning and other approvals, including complying with the regulations that protect our natural environment, heritage and Aboriginal cultural values," he said.
Hobart Lord Mayor Sue Hickey backed the Government's decision while conceding it would annoy many of her colleagues.
Cascade Brewery owns land at the base of the mountain that is also crucial to the development but is waiting for more detail before making any decisions.
Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel group, will create a new $50 million luxury hotel as part of Hobart's Parliament Square project.
The seven-story hotel will include 128 five-star rooms, a restaurant, lounge and whisky bar. It is set to be completed by October 2018.
Marriott is the second global hotel chain to commit to the city recently.
Hyatt Centric announced in January it would build a $40 million, 221-room hotel – its first in Australia – in Hobart's Elizabeth Street Mall.
While Hobart is basking in the MONA Effect, Mr Martin said Launceston was also heading in a positive direction.
“The north has its own boom going on," he said. “There’s about 1,200 hotel rooms under development or planning in Hobart, while in the north there’s about 500.
"It’s all relative."
Mr Hodgman said the Government was committed to protecting Tasmania's pristine natural assets outside the cities, while unlocking tourism opportunities in a careful and considered way.
He said the Government had supported the redevelopment of the Thousand Lakes Lodge (formerly Bernacchi Lodge) with a $300,000 grant from the Jobs and Investment Fund, an initiative jointly funded by the Tasmanian and Australian governments.
Mr Hodgman said: "This $1.3 million redevelopment represents not only a dramatic change of pace for former racing car driver, Marcus Ambrose, but also a commitment to sustainable tourism in one of the State’s most precious natural areas.
"We are building Tasmania’s future by backing our competitive strengths and there is no better example than the tourism industry – it’s thriving, driving new confidence and investment and supporting local businesses and jobs."
Roy Morgan Research reports that Hobart now outranks Perth and Brisbane as a capital city holiday destination that Australians want to visit.
Footnote: The Three Capes Track has generated a new Tasman Peninsula business, Three Capes Gear & Gourmet. Focussed on relatively inexperienced walkers, the business was established by Gail MacCallum and Ian Connellan, former Sydney-based magazine editors with long-standing connections to Tasmania. Mr Connellan, an enthusiastic walker, said: "The track was being set up in part to stimulate the Tasman Peninsula economy – the Tasmanian Government wanted people to create businesses around it.” Selling quality, light hiking gear and a range of food, with a focus on local provenance, made sense and the business opened in February. It's already busier than the founders expected.
Image courtesy of Tasmania's Parks & Wildlife Service
8 March 2017, Edition 181