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Tasmania’s Stories

Visitors, cruise ships smash records

Edition 193_ChineseVisitors

Tasmania’s tourist invasion continues unabated with a record number of international visitors – and cruise ships.

Latest data confirm what we already know: Tasmania is pipping the rest of Australia at the post as a ‘must-see destination’.

Tasmania has just outperformed all other states, last year recording the highest rate of growth for international tourists.

In 2017 the number of overseas visitors to our shores surged by a record 18% with 279,000 making the journey south.

These figures are not isolated. They are part of a strong trend resulting in a near doubling of Tasmania’s international tourist numbers over the past five years. There has been a 59% increase in the past three years alone.

“This really is the awakening of the state as a world tourism destination,” Tourism Industry Council Chief Executive, Luke Martin said.

“We are Australia’s fastest growing international tourist destination. Putting it bluntly Tasmania is stealing market share from the other states – snatching a bigger slice of the pie.”

Perhaps most amazing of all: this in a state with no international airport.

“That shows just how strong our brand is,” Mr Martin said.

“Remember visitors can’t just fly here directly as they can to the other states. They need to make a special detour just to visit Tasmania – and they are clearly doing that."

Asian tourists are lured here by our clean air, stunning natural beauty and fresh produce. Europeans and Americans prefer more immersive experiences like hiking and fishing.

Hobart and the southern region topped the list attracting 244,000 overseas visitors last year.

The biggest regional drawcard was the Tasman Peninsula (105,000 visitors), closely followed by Cradle Mountain (102,000 visitors), Freycinet National Park (84,000 visitors) and Bruny Island (52,000 visitors).

Tourism Tasmania points out the biggest growth in visitation numbers comes from China then followed by Canada, Germany, and the USA.

As Mr Martin explains: “We saw a massive spike in the number of Chinese visitors after the historic visit of (Chinese) President Xi Jinping in 2014.”

Not surprisingly this surge in international visitors has been an enormous windfall for Tasmania’s economy.

Overseas guests spent a record $479 million in 2017 – a 30% increase on the year before – with an average visit lasting 12 days.

“This is equivalent to the income generated by our dairy industry,” Mr Martin said.

“It is clearly a very large part of Tasmania’s economy, and don’t forget we are only talking about international tourists here.”

He also adds the best is yet to come.

Mr Martin said Hobart’s new hotels – such as The Tasman and Crowne Plaza which are due to open later this year – could be a game changer as they are part of vast overseas networks that Tasmania can tap into.

“The Tasman for example will be a six-star hotel run by Marriott - the world’s largest hotel chain – and this creates enormous market opportunity for our international visitor numbers.”

However, Tasmania’s record run continued on the sea as well, with the cruise ship season wrapping up on a historic high.

The final vessel pulled into Hobart on March 30, concluding a bumper season that kicked off last October.

The 2017-18 season saw a record 127 cruise ships with 353,000 passengers visit Tasmania – 36% up on the previous season with 94 visits.

All regional centres also welcomed a record number of vessels, according to TasPort’s Commercial Manager, Kristy Little, who told ABC News: “Predominantly this growth has been seen in Hobart, but also up in Burnie.”

She added the Port Arthur Historic Site also experienced a substantial increase which was largely “around infrastructure upgrades that they have completed to their jetty.”

Regional breakdowns in cruise ship visits in 2017-18 were:

  • Hobart: 60 visits (48 in 2016-17)
  • Burnie: 32 visits (17 in 2016-17)
  • Port Arthur: 25 visits (22 in 2016-17)
  • Wine Glass Bay: 8 visits (6 in 2016-17)
  • King Island: 1 visit (1 in 2016-17)
  • Tamar Valley: 1 visit (none in 2016-17)

Meantime, while concerns have been raised that cruise ship visits may have plateaued - with just 117 vessels booked for the next season so far - others believe there is still plenty of capacity left in the market.

Destination Southern Tasmanian Chairman, Stuart Lennox, said: “Hobart is an ideal location for visiting vessels and this will help ensure that strong growth continues.

“It is one of the world’s most beautiful harbours with the city nestled under that majestic mountain.

“For a visitor cruising up the Derwent for the very first time – it would be an extraordinary experience.”

Image courtesy of The Mercury

11 April 2018, Edition 193

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

Brand Tasmania

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