Many of Tasmania’s 2,450 frustrated tourism operators are experiencing a slump but say they are too scared to speak out against Tourism Tasmania’s perceived bureaucratic stranglehold on the sector. Tourism operators contacted yesterday wanted to remain anonymous but said visitor numbers and profits were sliding.
They said they supported a call by former Trans Australia Airlines state manager Norm White for a shake-up of Tourism Tasmania.
Mr. White, who is also director of Advance Tourism, said Tasmania’s tourism industry was being stifled by government bureaucrats who controlled tourism spending and played favorites.
Mr. White said although Tourism Tasmania spent $30 million on tourism initiatives each year, Tasmania was being whipped by its interstate competitors because it was not directed effectively.
“You cannot mix bureaucracy with commerce. Tourism operators in Tasmania are really hurting and free speech is banned,” said Mr. White, who took out an advertisement in the Mercury yesterday to air his views.
He recommended Tourism Tasmania be downsized and the savings used to fund three regional tourism organizations and a new Tourism Tasmania board chairman be appointed from the private sector.
Tourism Tasmania did not comment yesterday but Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Hanna said the government and industry had held robust discussions in the past and should not now resort to throwing “hand grenades” from the sidelines.
“Around Australia, government bodies are responsible for promoting destinations, and ours is doing a pretty good job on the whole,” Mr. Hanna said.
“Our tourism results reflect that. There is an issue with the dispersal of tourists into the regions, and that is something we can work on,” he said.
A survey of 104 tourism businesses conducted this month by Advance Tourism showed 68 percent rated Tourism Tasmania’s marketing activities as poor or very poor.
The operators accused Tourism Tasmania of misrepresenting statistics and said complaints had been ignored.
Tourism Tasmania has advertised to outsource its public-relations operations but yesterday said the move was nothing new.