Tourism industry funds call

reprinted from Tasmania’s Mercury 18 July 2012
this excerpt comes after my keynote address on the Future of Tourism at Tourism Industry Council Tasmania’s annual conference

TASMANIA’S key tourism body has slammed the State Government for failing to provide adequate funding to promote the industry.

Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chairman Simon Currant said more needed to be done to stop the decline in visitor numbers.

Mr Currant was speaking to more than 350 tourism operators at the seventh annual Tasmanian Tourism Conference, being held at the Country Club in Launceston today.

Tourism Minister Scott Bacon officially opened the conference this morning and said the State Government had “quarantined” Tourism Tasmania’s marketing funding from recent budget cuts.

But Mr Currant said it wasn’t enough.

“The forward estimates are reducing the expenditure of Tourism Tasmania this year and next year,” he said.

“This has to be arrested; the Government has to invest in this industry.”

Mr Currant said unless the State Government increased funding for the state’s peak tourism marketing body, there would be job losses in the industry.

He said this was despite the fact that Tasmania had a strong tourism product, as shown by five wins at the Australian Tourism Awards earlier this year.

“(The tourism industry) offers the answer for our state,” he said.

“We’ve got a natural asset here that everyone wants. We’ve got to tell people about it.”

But the state’s share of the national domestic tourism market was slipping.

Mr Currant said the number of visitors from Melbourne — traditionally Tasmania’s core visitor market — was dropping drastically.

Despite this, Mr Currant said operators should be “optimistic” about the future and invest in ways to improve the state’s tourism product.

Business futurist Morris Miselowski was the keynote speaker at the conference this morning.

He urged operators to harness the benefits of social media for their businesses.

Mr Miselowski said it was not enough for operators to rely solely on the marketing initiatives of Tourism Tasmania.

He said operators need to embrace new technologies and have a presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Pintrest and Tumblr.

TICT chief executive Luke Martin said the sites offered “unique and creative marketing options” for operators constrained by small advertising budgets.

“People have to be responsible for their own business and look at it as part of their own marketing activities,” Mr Martin said.

“It’s no different from the past where you look at buying an advertisement or paying for marketing information in a booklet.”

He said workshops at the conference aimed to lift the skills of operators across the industry.

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