Direct NZ route will set alight tourism
HOPES are high in Tasmanian tourism circles that new direct flights are on the cards for Hobart.
Work is going on behind the scenes to get smoother and faster tourist access into Hobart, on the back of record tourism traffic and new hotels coming on line in the city.
The Hobart International Airport extension — due for completion by March — will enable direct flights from Asian markets and firmly establish Hobart as an Antarctic resource hub.
Flights from Adelaide may happen sooner rather than later, one tourism leader said.
Virgin started flying the Adelaide-Hobart route in 2004 and stopped about 10 years ago. Tiger Airways briefly ran the direct service but stopped in 2010.
Also, direct flights to Auckland in New Zealand would be a coup, and the word is the State Government is keen to see them operating before the next state election, due before March.
New Zealand flights would open up big new markets for tourism operators.
No longer would Hobart be a tourism terminus, where all flights simply turn around and head back to the mainland.
Operators would be able to package Tasmania and New Zealand holidays aimed at international tourists, a boost for Tasmania and a valuable add-on for the Kiwi market.
Tourism Industry Council chief Luke Martin thinks the direct Hobart-Auckland connection is “a likelihood”.
“New Zealand is considered a domestic market and is an obvious opportunity for Tasmania. Auckland is a city of just under two million people. New Zealand is a country of 4.5 million,” Mr Martin said.
Mr Martin also has his sights firmly set on direct flights to Perth.
“This is really one we have to pursue. Perth will have direct flights to London next year and it will become a major international hub,” he said.
“More and more people are flying into Perth from Asia as well. It is a city of two million, so it opens up big market opportunities.”
Mr Martin said Tasmanian tourism would also benefit from more direct flights into southeast Queensland.
The State Government and the tourism industry aim to attract 1.5 million tourists to Tasmania by 2020. Last year 1.2 million visited, spending about $2.14 billion.