image

Tourism Talk: Issue – How and why we are not succeeding

OR

What Tom would do:

We have got to cut the overspend on unwarranted and unproductive activities and go back to the basics of tourism promotion.

Problems:

• Tourism Tasmania has abrogated its responsibilities to Federal Hotels and the small tourism operators to do its job for them while the high number of Tourism Tasmania staff have nothing to do after they have spent months formulating clever philosophical utopian models on how tourism should be run in this state (which will also require a high number of staff). Of course there is never any intention that the said staff should then run and fund these models. Oh no, it is always the intention that tourism operators and councils foot the bill, as well as trying to run their own failing businesses.

• How many tourism bodies and chairmen does this state with a population the same size as the ACT need? Surf the web and a number of similar organisations leap out at you: Regional Tourism Steering Committees, each with 14 members; Local Tourism Associations; Regional Tourism Tripartite Strategic Action Plan; Zone Marketing Groups (which are to be superceded by Regional Tourism organisations – same thing really, just a name change); Regional Tourism Organisations which are to coordinate input from industry operators. There are 4 of these and each requires an 11 member board. Who is paying for these, one might ask. Of course, tourism operators and councils are footing the bill for Tourism Tasmania. Local Government already pays for the Tourist Information Centres – some of these around the state don’t really understand what it is they should be doing to support their local communities in tourism – the Launceston one likes to run its own tourism ventures in competition with some local businesses. It loses over half a million dollars a year in ratepayer monies.

• What do the Tourism Tasmania department staff do now to justify filling in their day in front of their computers and drawing a wage? The new god is “Social Media”!!! Yes, Twitter and Facebook! How did we ever live before it! It’s so ‘feel good’ and not measurable – perfect! No self-respecting business would use this as an integral part of their advertising campaign. The people who use it don’t buy – they just ‘tweet’. It’s becoming a social disease. Egotistical politicians broadcast their sound bites on it – so warm and cosy. Of course they realise that when it comes to voting, most people will choose a name they are ‘familiar’ with, often irrespective of any political policies.

• Federal Hotels has stepped into the breach vacated by Tourism Tasmania (with its blessing) and now totally controls the top end of the tourism market. Along with the monopoly on gambling which its political lackeys have given it (those junkets were soooo good, thank you), we may as well be calling this state “Fedmania”. The free car parking space outside Parliament House is just a little telling, one would think.

• Statistics which lie. Drive past Launceston Airport long term parking and note how full it is with locals’ cars. Their owners have flown interstate and do it often. These out-flying locals are classed as ‘tourists’ in the statistics which are handed down to the gullible public. Categories of visitors are renamed to make it easier to manipulate and ‘analyse’ these statistics. Future tourism assessments are based on this skewered, inaccurate and flawed data.

• Giving Tiger Airways $30 million to fly into Hobart. I almost fell off my couch listening to Scott Bacon’s political double-speak explanation on why this was done. How stupid does he think we are? It’s about time the current crop of spin doctors was sacked and one new bright spark brought in so we don’t have to listen to the same words coming out of each politician’s mouth. Tiger Airways has real problems with unreliability and air safety. Good one, Scott. But it wasn’t you who came up with this idea, was it? You’re just the mouthpiece for your ambitious department heads. Of course, this action of only flying into Hobart acerbates the north-side divide in this state and this is extremely counterproductive to any future improvement.

Solutions:

TourismTasmania could be run from one office with the following breakdown of staff:

• 4 Regional Tourism staff who could easily and efficiently do the work of an 11 member board.

• 6 IT staff to coordinate one definitive, user-friendly website for the entire state and one definitive publication for each region (instead of the huge double/triple-up that presently happens).

• 1 person with a good command of the English written language to write copy and proof-read.

• 1 receptionist (or whatever the new jargon calls the position)

• 1 head who actually follows through

Go back to the basics of tried and tested tourism promotion by resuming attendance at trade shows, bring back the call centres in Launceston and Hobart. These centres were the one stop shop for tourism operators and visitors to the state. There are many people out there who actually want to talk to a human being and not always navigate a computer screen. Spend the money advertising in the mainland Sunday papers in the Travel Section. Big companies have been doing it constantly and they wouldn’t be spending the money on this advertising if it didn’t work!

And finally, reinvert the inverted pyramid and reduce/ remove the corporate overheads. The doubling up is scandalous and wasteful just to justify jobs. Tourism Tasmania needs to take back ownership of its department and start doing what we, the taxpayer, are footing the bill for. We have measured your performance and found it wanting.

This is what Tom would do.

For over 30 years, Tom Bailey worked in Federal and State Government departments and was also involved in owning small business retail and tourism ventures. In retirement, Tom takes a very strong interest in how state government departments and local government perform for the benefit of tax payers. He has been involved in various historical association committees and takes the view that heritage and tourism work hand in hand and need to be fostered.