The cancellation of popular winter event Dark Mofo is a 'shocking blow' to Tasmania's tourism industry says the state's peak tourism body.
Dark Mofo creative director Leigh Carmichael and Mona founder David Walsh announced on Wednesday they would not be going ahead with the festival this year amid fears of financial losses in the millions due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
READ MORE: Dark Mofo 2020 cancelled due to coronavirus
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said, while industry understood the difficult decision made by the Dark Mofo team to cancel the event, there was no denying the impact it would have on already challenging conditions for the industry.
"Dark Mofo is our largest drawcard over the winter months and has a big positive impact on visitation across Tasmania in June. It is going to severely impact our visitor economy over the depth of winter," Mr Martin said.
"Until now, Tasmanian tourism's exposure to the coronavirus travel ban has been relatively isolated to a small group of tourism operators who specialise in the China inbound market."
Mr Martin said the TICT would be having discussions with Tourism Tasmania and the government about potential steps to mitigate the impact of the festival's cancellation.
"But obviously things are so uncertain with the coronavirus it's difficult to make any alternative plans," he said.
"These are now the most uncertain times tourism in Australia has faced since the pilot strike of the early 90s."
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Tourism Northern Tasmania chief executive Chris Griffin said at this stage there was no indication other tourism events would be cancelled because of the virus.
"We would expect if there's any changes at all in our event calendar it will be because of external factors such as restrictions on travel or restrictions on the congregation of large groups," Mr Griffin said.
"When you read David Walsh's explanation, it was clearly a financial decision he made rather than a fear the virus would be present at the event."
Premier and Tourism Minister Peter Gutwein recognised the difficult decision taken by the event's organisers to cancel the festival.
"Dark Mofo has quickly become known as a cultural icon following its inception in 2013, and we know this decision has been made in the best interests of the festival's viability," Mr Gutwein said.
Mr Gutwein said the government was looking forward to again supporting Dark Mofo when the festival returned next year.
"We are committed to ensuring Tasmania's visitor economy remains strong, particularly during the traditionally cooler months, and we will work with Mona and our tourism and event stakeholders as well as the Hobart City Council to identify opportunities to attract local and domestic visitors during this upcoming winter season," he said.
Labor leader Rebecca White said the cancellation highlighted the need for urgent stimulus measures.
"All levels of government need to act quickly and decisively to implement short-term stimulus measures to support the economy right now, but also plan for longer term investment to ensure a strong economy," Ms White said.
Greens arts spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff said, as coronavirus continues to spread, Tasmanians should brace themselves for other unexpected cancellations.
"While it's a blow to Tasmania's arts scene and all its beneficiaries, Mona and Dark Lab have made a tough and pragmatic call," Dr Woodruff said.
"We look forward to Dark Mofo returning in 2021, with its usual - and unusual - spectacle."