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Monday, December 05, 2005

Tourism chief sees opportunities galore

The Mercury: Tourism chief sees opportunities galore [06dec05]

TASMANIA could do a better job at selling its unusual island lifestyle in national and international tourism markets.

That's the early impression of new Tourism Tasmania chief Felicia Mariani, who was in Hobart yesterday to meet with Tourism Minister Paula Wriedt before starting her new job late next month.

Ms Mariani, who has held senior tourism positions in NSW and Victoria, said she was excited by the enormous challenges and opportunities ahead for state tourism.

"There has been fabulous growth in tourism in the past seven to eight years which has been the envy of many other state tourism offices," Ms Mariani said yesterday.

"But inevitably there is always a plateau reached and we are near that time; now we need to think what's next that can speed that growth again."

Two key areas nominated by Ms Mariani as holding promise are an expansion in event-based tourism, which grew 42 per cent across Australia last year, and a focus on attracting more interstate tourists who have friends and family in the state.

The increasingly popular mini breaks of four to five days are another opportunity for Tasmania, with this market catering to the well-heeled end of the tourist mix.

The new tourism chief also said the "phenomenal" number of repeat visitors to Tasmania (482,000 of last year's 800,000 tourists had visited the state before) could be used to great effect to spread favourable word-of-mouth news about the state.

Ms Mariani said there was enormous interest around the world now in experience-based travel, with visitors looking for activities such as whitewater rafting, hiking, gourmet travel or wilderness adventures.

Opposition tourism spokesman Will Hodgman questioned why the State Government and Tourism Tasmania had not invested in television advertising on the mainland for 10 years.

Mr Hodgman suggested Ms Mariani should consider as a matter of priority whether or not it would be prudent to develop a Tourism Tasmania TV ad campaign.

He said the state's image was tired and confused.

But Ms Mariani denied Tasmania had a major image problem.

"[It's image] isn't tired, but it probably is time for a little refresh," she said.

"And there is no doubt that a television advertising campaign is the best way to build a brand quickly."


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