It is easy to become despondent when once again our industry is being challenged by travel restrictions and a pandemic that places even the most robust of business models under daily pressure.
In the short term there are critical decisions occupying the minds of business owners that seem to compress planning into timeframes of weeks or days - not months or years.
It is acutely challenging, it is real and it is full of unknowns.
Will an 80 per cent vaccination rate result in fully opened borders, business as usual or will there be a blend of hot spots, in and out of the state to contend with?
Are vaccination passports possible and what legislative changes will be needed? When we do reopen, what state will our tourism, hospitality and events sectors be in? Will we have the capacity to manage what could be a surge in demand to visit our island?
Will our people be in a good way mentally, energised to see visitors again, or exhausted by the anxieties the current trading conditions beset them with, or both?
If earlier this year is any gauge, we can expect Tasmania to be a very popular destination once border restrictions ease.
We experienced our strongest March and April trading on record right across Northern Tasmania.
This demand generated economic and social benefit for many.
Jobs and skills training returned, additional expenditure from the visitor economy flowed across sectors, government receipts were up and our industry's overall financial position was looking up.
But our people were stretched, and our offering was often compromised by not having the people available to deliver the great Tasmanian experience we are famous for.
At the centre of our plan for a better tomorrow must be our people - Tasmanians working in the interrelated sectors of tourism, events and hospitality; collaborating to share resources, to keep people employed and preparing to host visitors to our state when border restrictions ease.
What we need now above all else is to keep our people in their jobs.
Those who are passionate, experienced and qualified will be the backbone of our recovery.
That is why we need a tailored, specific support package to assist with retaining our workforce.
It is not just about how much unemployment could be averted, it is about our retention of skills and capacity to cater for what could be a surge of visitation when borders start to reopen.
This will be critical. We can't afford to silo our efforts into sector-specific boxes. Tourism as we knew it may not return for some while.
Our events need to continue to manage their scale and cater more toward local audiences, especially those events we relied upon to attract interstate visitors.
We need to find opportunity through necessity to create more resilient business models for our visitor experiences.
Blending agriculture and tourism is already proving an attractive option for us to scale up.
We know recreational tourism based on people's passion for walking, riding, golfing and fishing generated strong results earlier this year when we were open, and we know that high quality truly Tasmanian experiences will be sought after, while 'cookie cutter' generic holidays catering to volume tourism maybe a thing of our past.
This support needs a long-term lens applied.
Any financial benefit to our industry now will be paid back in a very short period of time when restrictions ease and money flows through our sector once again and multiplies into regional economies.
The prevailing concern is that if the current trading conditions persist across the remainder of this calendar year, we will see more of our best people leave the industry. Justifiably they will look for a secure wage, while business owners may have to make heart-breaking decisions to let valued team members go, or worse yet close up shop to avoid the worst of financial hardships.
The recovery from this alternate future is longer, more costly with potential damage to the Tasmanian brand we have built and continue to nurture.
With government support to retain our workforce we can have confidence to look forward to this summer.
Not only should demand for Tasmania be strong, we will also have direct airline services linking Launceston airport with the key markets of Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
Direct flights are one of the many silver linings COVID-19 leaves us, ensuring those wanting to travel to Tasmania can do so more simply.
Our premier has been exemplary in his approach to keeping Tasmanians safe and the support for our industry.
The timing is right for a 'baton' change to carry this support forward with a refined focus on all elements of the visitor economy.
Great news then that Minister Courtney will now hold all three portfolios of tourism, events and hospitality, providing oversight to all the possibilities for collaboration that government policy can muster.
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