Branding Tasmania good as gold

LONELY PLANET'S sensational wrap for the East Coast's Bay of Fires is a timely lesson in how to create and sustain a brand.

In a blaze of international glory, the Bay of Fires became hot property in 2009.

Suddenly, we had one of the world's best-kept secrets as the "hottest" place to visit. We've heard little about it since.

Now Suncorp Bank has named Launceston as the nation's most family-friendly city.

We knew that anyway - the inexpensive lifestyle; the leisurely peace and the relatively safe environment.

Brand is everything. A tourist destination may be a dump on the whole but there's always something that keeps it on the map.

In 2010 the government said it would create a Bay of Fires national park but never did.

Remember the picture of the premier and ministers wading through the clear blue shallows? A useless stunt.

In fact, Tourism Tasmania rightly promotes the Freycinet Peninsular but seems to have ignored Lonely Planet's 2009 discovery.

Many destinations owe their popularity to a brand. Rotorua's boiling mud pools, Gold Coast beaches, the Rock of Gibraltar, Adelaide's parks and gardens, Canada's Rockies; the Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty, Japan's Shinkansen bullet trains.

Launceston has the Gorge, but not much else you could call extraordinary.

Now a bank has decided that Launceston is the nation's friendliest spot. In this notoriously hostile and uncertain world, such a brand is gold for tourism.

There are millions of families interstate and overseas in desperate search of a haven in which to raise their children or to retire.

If the city's council and business elite haven't taken the hint by now, they need to stand aside. A place with an ultra-friendly reputation is like the ace of hearts, and will trump places with hot springs, mountain backdrops and beautiful yellow beaches any time.

Our civic leaders must grab this little accolade and attach it to everything they market.

"Launceston - our safest home. Come on over and raise the family." It's as good as "Tasmania, the Apple Isle".

We stopped mass-producing apples long ago, but that hasn't stopped the brand.

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