Tasmania’s small tourism businesses are on track to be turning over a billion dollars a year.
Analysis by the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania shows that since September 2015, spending in Tasmania’s about 2,000 tourism businesses increased 23 per cent.
Visitors spent $961 million in the sector within 12 months, with this figure expected to rise in the 2019 period to over a billion.
That figure accounts for businesses not involved in accommodation or transport, with $700 million going to cafes, restaurants, takeaways and food experiences.
Cath Riley, owner of George Street clothing store Et La Mer, has a novel way of spotting a tourist: the husbands will be with their wives.
“You can tell just by looking at them – they’re fairly relaxed, and often the lady will be with her husband, which doesn’t generally happen unless it’s a weekend,” she said.
She said that based on her experiences, she wouldn’t be surprised if the small business tourism spend continued to grow.
“I can say that before tourism has grown the way that it has, we were certainly – I don’t know if struggling is the right word to use – but things have become a lot easier and a lot more viable,” she said.
“It does feel really strong, it doesn't feel like something that’s just a fly-by-night. It certainly feels permanent to me, and it’s certainly helped my business to grow.”
She also has a theory on when the growth in visitation to Tasmania began.
“This is just a guess, but in my head this all started about the time that Mona appeared on the scene,” she said.
“We see a lot of people that have come down to Mona and have extended that into a holiday.”
Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania Chair, Daniel Leesong, said the figures show the tourism industry is absolutely fundamental to Tasmania’s economic fabric.
“It’s bigger than the value of salmon industry and forestry industry international exports combined,” he said.
“Tasmania’s tourism operators aren’t multi-nationals, they’re mums and dads working hard to make Tasmania a premiere visitor destination, and these businesses are dotted all around the state - not just in the major centres.”
Total visitor spending in the year to September 2018 was around $2.5 billion.
“This peak season is shaping up as one of the best ever and it’s turning into more job opportunities,” he said.
“I’m not the only tourism business owner in Tasmania that’s putting on extra staff and as a regional operator, we’re giving more people opportunities to thrive in regional communities.
“The tourism industry is creating a renaissance for regional Tasmania.”
IN OTHER NEWS:
While you're with us, did you know that you can now sign up to receive breaking news updates and daily headlines direct to your inbox. Sign up here.