Visitors, cruise ships smash records
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