Tourism Tasmania has led a 10-member delegation to Hong Kong last week, marking its first visit since the pandemic. This three-day visit aimed to reconnect with partners and media, according to head of industry and partnerships, Cathryn Carey.
Carey noted: “Instead of exploring new markets, we decided to reinvest in those markets supporting Australia strongly i.e. premium FITs and small groups who seek experience of nature, wildlife, food and drinks, art and culture.
“Currently, only about 51 per cent of seat capacity (is) to Australia, compared to 2019 figures. Cathay Pacific and Qantas are slowly ramping up their services so hopefully by March 2024, it will hit 70 per cent. We really hope to get about 75 flights per week by March, with easy connectivity from Sydney and Melbourne to Tasmania.”
In 2019, Tasmania welcomed 28,100 visitors from Hong Kong but since January this year, there were only around 3,000 visitors. As of September, the destination received about 1.26 million arrivals, of which 13 per cent were international visitors.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Tasmania has worked on introducing new products, for instance, four international hotels (four- and five-star) opened in Hobart over the last two years – Marriott’s first Luxury Collection hotel in Australia, Crowne Plaza, Mövenpick and Vibe Hotels.
New and improved facilities also ensure visitors enjoy comfort while out in nature, such as the brand-new Mount Field Retreat situated at Mount Field National Park and Dove Lake viewing shelter. Meanwhile, the Agrarian Kitchen provides guided one-hour garden tours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In 2024, Spirit of Tasmania ferry services from Victoria’s Geelong to Devonport in Tasmania’s north will see the addition of two brand-new boats. These are 25 per cent larger than the current capacity, providing more space for camper vans and caravans, as well as a spacious and modern facility onboard for visitors.
Carey pointed out that the ultimate goal is to have direct air connection into Asia. Currently, there is direct service to Auckland from Hobart International Airport.
She added: “The runway of Hobart International Airport is long enough to take wide-bodied aircraft but that needs to be underpinned and strengthened to allow (aircraft to) take off with a full load of fuel. The underpinning of the runway has been approved and the government has set aside money for it – it’s just a matter of time (till) we can get engineering services.”
Half of the Tourism Tasmania delegation continued their journey to Zhuhai, China from Hong Kong for the Australia Marketplace China 2023 held on December 4-6.