Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I thank the member for Rosevears for bringing this forward. The latest report from the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania has no real surprises in it and confirms what most of us here know about the importance of tourism to our state. In the year ending December 2017, 1.26 million visitors were welcomed to Tasmania with a goal of 1.5 million visitors for the year ending 2020. We had a record $2.3 billion visitor spend in 2016-17, with a 2020 goal of $2.47 billion. Like the member for Rosevears, I found the conference earlier in the year very interesting and also later on the evening at the Velo vineyard where a lot of people came together and certainly told stories about Launceston, Tasmania and the whole tourism gambit, and why people were there and the attractions Tasmania offered.
Of the 1000 people surveyed, it was reassuring to see the percentage of people seeing tourism as the state's most important industry as increasing once again to 59 per cent. Hopefully this enthusiasm for tourism will be shared by people worldwide to help promote this beautiful state we are fortunate enough to live in. According to recent government figures, the number of people visiting Launceston has risen by 12 per cent over the last year, resulting in approximately 570 000 visitors to the city at September 2017. With the re-establishment of the Penny Royal complex and with the planned new light show event at the Cataract Gorge, as well as the development of the north tourist drive and the new hotels we have already - we have, as the member for Rosevears mentioned, the wonderful Silo Hotel and the fabulous new restaurant with it and other proposed hotels.
Mr Finch - I was impressed with Errol Stewart on the night, saying what he wanted to do with the new restaurant was to match the standards of Stillwater and the Mud Bar, which is terrific. He was not saying he wanted to better them, but to match the bar at the height they have, which was terrific.
Ms ARMITAGE - It was, and he also spoke about how he has gone around to a variety of different farms in the region making sure the produce is local - the meat is local. That is really great. He is not bringing food in from the mainland, he is looking at local producers and showcasing what they can offer.
Ms Rattray - He acknowledged most of them being there on that evening.
Ms ARMITAGE - Yes, they were invited - 1100 people. Hopefully this number will keep on growing so we can show the world how much Launceston and surrounds has to offer. It is interesting to see the perceived prominent negative impact people identified is road infrastructure and increased congestion. Road congestion is already an issue in parts of Launceston and obviously Hobart, and if the number of vehicles on the road continues to increase, it will only become more of an issue unless something is done in the meantime. However, it is minor compared to other states and we need to appreciate that we are very fortunate in Tasmania.
Another negative effect of the increase in visitor numbers cited in the report was the perceived increased prices for locals, including housing. One would have thought the flip side of this issue is a positive for those who wish to sell their houses. I see lack of rental accommodation due to Airbnb was also mentioned as a negative. Obviously this aspect will be explored during our select committee inquiry on short-stay accommodation. Another negative mentioned was that if people see the state and like it, they will move here and stay. That was mentioned by the member for Rosevears. Surely this would benefit the local industry and economy? Of course we are all aware the state Government with its 'You In A Year' social media and online campaign for Sydneysiders, spruiking the advantages of relocating to Tasmania, the campaign showcasing Tasmania's lifestyle and employment opportunities as well as lower house prices, part of the Government's drive to get the state's population up to 650 000 by 2050. As with any discussion about tourism, there will be those who are against it as they are happy with the current status quo and are not supportive of change. There are others who are all for it as they can see the bigger picture for the economy and the state. This is reflected in the 3 per cent of people in the south who saw the cruise ships as a negative thing for the state.
Tourism should be all about balance - promoting the state to bring in more tourists but making sure the reasons tourists are visiting the state are protected and maintained. This aspect was loosely reflected in the survey results, where 3 per cent of those surveyed believed there was a threat of overcommercialising Tasmania and negatively affecting the state's character.
More Tasmanians per capita are employed in tourism than any other state or territory, with 18 900 direct and 19 000-plus indirect jobs in 2015-16.
In closing, I congratulate the TICT on compiling this report and once again giving us a snapshot into the tourism industry and how it is perceived in this state.