Tasmanian tourism boost

More than 130 direct flights from New Zealand to Hobart packed with tourists are set to sample the tastes and sights of Tasmania, under a deal struck by the Morrison and Gutwein Governments for Hobart airport to take around 30,000 international travellers each year.

The new arrangement will see the Morrison Government invest $49.2 million for around 30 Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police investigators and biosecurity officers to make Hobart airport an international gateway for three flights a week from New Zealand and two flights a week in winter.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new arrangement realised the vision set out in the Hobart City Deal and would be a significant jobs boost.

“Safely opening to Australia and New Zealand will be a shot in the arm for Tassie tourism and jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

“This has been an incredibly tough year for Australians and particularly our tourism and hospitality sectors, but this deal will mean tourists from low-risk areas can come to sample Tasmania’s incredible experiences, sights and produce.

“While the pandemic might have set back the timetable for making Hobart an international airport, it is just going to mean more pent up demand for the best Tasmania has to offer.”

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said his government would invest $10 million, as part of a $17.5 million investment in partnership with the Airport’s owners, to upgrade Hobart Airport’s infrastructure to facilitate its international border arrangements.

“For the first time in more than two decades Tasmania will welcome international flights from New Zealand,” the Premier said.

“This is a unique opportunity to travel between two extraordinary island destinations, and a terrific boost for local jobs across our tourism sector, including more jobs at our Airport as we undertake upgrades in the coming weeks to accommodate international arrangements.

“2020 has been a challenging year, but this is a sensational coup, and I invite New Zealanders to come to Tasmania and discover what makes this place so very special.”

Mr Gutwein said that he recognised the aviation industry was battling the impacts of the pandemic, and the Tasmanian Government would help underwrite the services between Auckland and Hobart for two years.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the airline and tourism industries had been smashed by COVID-19 and that the deal offered hope to businesses and workers.

“More planes in the sky means more jobs on the ground for Tasmania,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“This deal is going to see more tourists at Tasmania’s museums and galleries, staying at its hotels, eating and drinking at its restaurants and cafes, and exploring its parks and sights.”

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the deployment of officers to process and oversee international arrivals would help keep Australians safe.

“As well as the risks we’re facing with the pandemic the other threats we face at our borders haven’t gone away which is why these highly skilled officers will be so important,” Minister Dutton said.

“While keeping our borders secure, the extra 30 officers flying in and out also mean more investment for local businesses.”

Assistant Minister Jonno Duniam said New Zealand was a critical visitor market for Australia and Tasmania.

“For too long Tasmania has been compared with New Zealand, and now Tassie has the chance to prove that one island is better than two,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

“This is the shot in the arm that Tasmania’s tourism operators desperately need as they start rebuilding an industry that is stronger than it was before.

“Importantly, this is a giant leap towards Tasmania having a truly international airport, and gives the state an opportunity to prove it can be done with success.”

The Morrison and Gutwein Governments expect the new arrangement to commence in January 2021 and will be reviewed at the end of the first year.