News that Tasmania’s borders would be closed until at least December 1 must have been a blow to the state’s many tourism operators who rely on interstate markets to bolster patronage.
Tourism has been hailed as a pillar of the state’s economy and rightly so, as it contributes $1.49 billion, or 4.9 per cent, of Tasmania’s gross product.
It also indirectly supports about 42,000 jobs, or 17.2 per cent of total employment.
It is a significant player in the make up of the state’s economy, and unfortunately it has been the sector that has been hardest hit, both directly to businesses but also indirectly, due to the impact on events.
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Tasmanian tourism operators rely on domestic travellers much more than the international market, so the outbreaks of COVID-19 impacting Victoria and spreading to other states has effectively shut down that market.
Last year, more than 3.5 million tourists and visitors arrived in Tasmania between 2018-19. Of that, 3.2 million were domestic overnight visitors. That’s 3.2 million people who will not be able to enter Tasmania due to border controls.
While no one is saying that we should put tourism and visitors over the health of Tasmanians, it is clear this is a problem that needs a complex solution to solve.
Enter – the state government’s visitor voucher scheme, that hopes to entice Tasmanians to go on a holiday outside their municipality in exchange for $100 towards a mid-week hotel night or $50 towards the cost of a ticket to attractions.
The Northern Territory, who also relies heavily on interstate tourism, introduced a similar scheme in July, but with a dollar to dollar value.
Tasmanians are keen to hear how they can access the scheme and discover the finer details. But it’s information we don’t know. All we know is that you can access vouchers outside of your municipality and you can do so from September 1.
While the boost will be essential to helping tourism operators survive, the lack of detail around the incentives is frustrating to those ready to start planning.