Tourism businesses cash in on visitor increase

NORTHERN Tasmanian tourism businesses are finally cashing in on the state's tourism boom.

For the first time since visitor numbers slumped about three years ago, growth in the North outstripped the state average for the December quarter, the latest visitor survey shows.

Between October and December, tourists in the North jumped 21 per cent compared with the same time the previous year, almost double the average state growth.

Visitors to the East Coast skyrocketed 51 per cent.

For the same period growth in people going to Hobart slowed slightly.

More than a million people arrived in the state by air or sea in 2013 - up 14 per cent statewide.

The North kept pace with the increase, also recording a 14 per cent jump.

More than a million people arrived in the state by air or sea in 2013 - up 14 per cent statewide.

Tourism Northern Tasmania chief executive Chris Griffin said anecdotal evidence suggested the rest of summer had been very strong too.

"For us to be growing at the same rate or more is really, really healthy and really promising. There's been some very tough years in tourism," Mr Griffin said.

Tourism Tasmania chief executive John Fitzgerald said more flights between Melbourne and Sydney to Launceston and Hobart was key to the increase.

"It gave travellers more choices when it came to finding the best time and day of the week to come here to enjoy the many events and other great experiences that Tasmania offers its visitors," Mr Fitzgerald said.

The biggest ever flights giveaway, to be launched tomorrow, is designed to keep the tourists coming.

Mainlanders will be given the chance to win 2500 Qantas flights to the island state worth half a million dollars.

"It's a very cheeky promotion to give people free flights," he said.

However, Mr Griffin was concerned about a lack of events in winter, especially in July.

"The winter will be a cold winter but it shouldn't be any worse than last year," Mr Griffin said.

He said the cancellation of the Northern part of Mona's Dark MOFO festival was a big blow.

The new Liberal government has set itself an ambitious target to dramatically boost tourism with plans to make Tourism Tasmania a stand-alone agency, encourage development in national parks and even World Heritage areas, and lower Spirit of Tasmania ferry fares.

Premier and Tourism Minister Will Hodgman welcomed yesterday's figures.

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