Published on : Friday, December 15, 2017
Can Seng Ooi, a professor of cultural and heritage tourism and co-director of the tourism research and education network at the University of Tasmania, said that due to Tasmania’s increasing popularity as a destination, a comprehensive development strategy is needed to prevent over-saturation.
Citing Barcelona and the Gold Coast, where over-tourism has annoyed locals, Professor Ooi said a visitor tax could allow tourism to give back to the community.
He said, “It is an opportune time to formulate a comprehensive and progressive tourism development plan.”
He said there were three “essentials” in any plan.
“The first is to frame tourism as a resource for local community development, and not just the other way round,’’ he said.
“The second is to engage tourism businesses in local projects explicitly. Tourism provides jobs and revenues but not everyone feels rewarded. The benefits of tourism must be, and seen to be, well-distributed.
“The third focus in the comprehensive tourism plan is to identify a value-based vision for Tasmania that energises the local community, and one that is also relevant to visitors.”
Used in quite a few regions in Europe and North America, the visitor tax goes towards tourist infrastructure and is usually listed as a separate amount on quotes for accommodation. However, no location in Australia has a similar arrangement.
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said implementing a visitor tax would seriously hurt the state’s tourism industry.
“Visitor taxes are proven to be failures,” Mr. Martin said.
“If nowhere else in Australia has one why would you implement one in Tasmania? It would just hurt the industry”
The Liberal and Labor parties have said they would not introduce a visitor tax in Tasmania. However, Tasmanian Conservation Trust head Peter McGlone said that a visitor tax could maintain the heritage of the state.