Thursday morning gave us hope and a welcome boost for autumn and winter trading in regional Tasmania.
The federal government's announcement to provide half-price airfares to Launceston from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane from April 1 to July 31 will have a profound impact upon our tourism industry.
We have seen the response visitors gave to the last federal government travel subsidy of free cars on the Spirts of Tasmania - booked-out sailings well into the winter period.
With approximately 50 per cent of visitors to our northern region arriving through Launceston Airport, compared to just over 20 per cent arriving on the ferries, it is fair to say this latest initiative will give our tourism industry's fortunes a much-needed boost as we head into our cool season, a six-month period starting in April when traditionally we host one-third of our annual visitors.
But we cannot rely on these travel discounts to drive visitors to our city and region when competing with other destinations such as the Gold Coast, Cairns, the Whitsundays, Alice Springs and Kangaroo Island.
That is where opportunity lies, and thankfully where much of our work to date supporting events to be hosted in and around Launceston, and preparing winter marketing campaigns with Tourism Tasmania, can be amplified.
A hallmark of Northern Tasmania's tourism movement over the past four years has been our cool season events strategy; developing, attracting and leveraging major events to be hosted in and around Launceston between April and September.
The start of this year's cool season sees the re-emergence of our event calendar from its pandemic slumber.
Starting in April our aspiration of being a sporting event capital kicks off with NBL basketball, AFL footie and A-League soccer all scheduling events.
The list of sporting events in April alone includes:
Each of these sporting codes has a membership and an audience numbering in the tens to hundreds of thousands of prospective travellers. Many of these fans have not been able to spectate at events in person for some time.
Our opportunity is to partner with these codes and offer their fans great reasons to travel to Tassie to cheer on their team.
Tassie as a winter destination. Some of you might think that this is a tough proposition to sell. But we have been very effective as a state in promoting winter events as triggers for travel for years, be they AFL matches, Dark Mofo or our own Junction Arts Festival.
Beyond events, winter in regional Tasmania however has been one of our best kept secrets for years.
But not for long.
This year the team at Visit Northern Tasmania has been working with Tourism Tasmania in designing a campaign that focuses on the Tasmanian-ness of what makes a winter on our island so special.
While other Australian destinations will promote their big city lights, beaches and ski fields, we'll be offering an 'anti-ordinary' series of compelling holiday ideas that are truly Tasmanian.
Where you may be able to ski in Victoria, we want to invite you to bring the kids to Tassie for snow play at Ben Lomond or Cradle Mountain.
You could go to a big event in Melbourne or book tickets for an intimate small group pinot noir and truffle experience in the Tamar Valley.
Spend a day waterfall hunting in the Meander Valley, finishing with a Tasmanian whisky by the fire in a cosy B and B.
And let us not forget our city's appeal. Launceston is an ultimate boutique city.
We back onto a world-renowned wine valley, we are the gateway to Australia's mountain bike mecca of Blue Derby, home to some of the nation's most compelling heritage and stories. When played out on a backdrop of our natural attributes, the Cataract Gorge and Tamar River, it means we rival anything offered by other regional cities in Australia.
Our city's cool season charms are abundant. We just need to celebrate them more both with prospective visitors and as locals by getting out there and enjoying what our tourism and events industries have on offer.
What is the cool season Tassie indulgence that you think visitors would love?
If you are running a tourism business wanting to promote what makes your winter experience so uniquely Tasmanian, you have the opportunity to apply to be part of Tourism Tasmania's multi-million dollar winter marketing campaign.
To lodge your expression of interest, go to www.tourismtasmania.com.au
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