It's not known at this stage what Tasmania's contribution to global gas supplies could be, but we can well estimate what the cost of fracking will be to our clean, green image and the industries it supports.
The State Government estimates tourism in Tasmania contributes around $2.4 billion to the state's economy each year, and with the plan to substantially increase the number of tourists and visitors by 2020, the risk in dollar terms, as well as the potential loss of Tasmanian initiative and enterprise, is high.
Tasmania's tourism industry has been extremely successful in building brand recognition around our 'clean, green and safe' reputation. This image will be forever tarnished if tourists' perception of Tasmania is replaced with images of industrialised landscapes, gas well vents flaring and roads choked with heavy vehicles and tankers transporting hazardous chemicals and toxic waste.
As noted in one submission to the government's review of fracking:
All the risk will fall onto the Tasmanian people whilst a few foreign investors will profit handsomely in the short term and future generations will lament our stupidity.
Tourism and Hospitality Plan for Success
Tourism is regarded as the jewel in the state's economic crown. Demonstrating the state's commitment to growing Tasmania's tourism industry, an additional $16 million was allocated to the industry in the 2015 budget: $8 million for marketing and development and $8 million for new infrastructure and the maintenance of existing infrastructure in parks and reserves.
The tourism and hospitality industries are booming in Tasmania and the government is committed to building on this momentum to ensure the long term, sustainable future of these industries. Together with the State Government, the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT) is looking at ways to increase domestic and international demand to visit Tasmania for leisure, business, events, employment and education. T21 is the TICT's roadmap to 2020. The plan builds on the already successful tourism industry in Tasmania and aims higher. Its goal is to attract 1.5 million visitors to our island state a year by 2020.
Award Winning Tourist Destination
Tasmania recently cleaned up at the national tourism awards. In 2015 tourism operators won an unprecedented 10 gold awards from 29 categories, as well as three silver and three bronze awards. We've also won accolades in the tourist's bible, Lonely Planet, for the 82 km Three Capes Walk, which showcases the stunning scenery of the Tasman Peninsula.
Premier Will Hodgman says "Tasmania's domination on the national stage is a testament to our tourism industry, which has worked hard to deliver inspiring, wondrous and inviting experiences that we all can now proudly call the best in the country."
World Heritage Area
Our World Heritage Area is one of the reasons Tasmania is attracting tourists from around the globe in record numbers. Tasmania's reputation as 'clean and green' extends beyond our coastline; we are recognised internationally as such.
Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area is pristine temperate rainforest. It is one of the last great wildernesses on earth and is of such outstanding global significance that it's one of only three UNESCO listed wilderness areas in the southern hemisphere.
The World Heritage Area wilderness provides pristine habitats for plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world, including many rare and endangered species such as the under-threat Tasmanian Devil. Indigenous rock art and artifacts found in-situ date back to the last Ice Age.
The Impact of Mining on Tourism
Tasmania's image as a pristine environment underpins many of our island's sustainable, long-term industries, and tourism is no exception. Internationally we are seen as clean, green, natural and wild and we know that tourists are visiting our shores in record numbers on the strength of our hard won green image.
For its 2013 report on the Impact of Mining on Tourism, Tourism Research Australia (TRA) consulted with a number of tourism organisations throughout Australia, including the Tourism and Transport Forum Australia (TTF), the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) and the Tourism Council Western Australia (TCWA). TRA's research found that:
Overall, industry feedback confirms reports that the broader trends contained in official statistics, namely, that while the mining boom impact on the tourism industry has been very mixed, it has had a negative impact on leisure tourism. The feedback also highlighted concerns about tourism’s inability to attract and retain skilled staff and the impact that the displacement of leisure travel with business travel (miners) is having on the leisure tourism sector.
Wine Tasmania Industry Development and Extension Officer David Sanderson says that "The erosion of Tasmania's reputation as a wilderness and clean, green gourmet travel destination may also have a detrimental effect on the economy through reduction in tourist numbers and spending".
Independent Tasmanian senator, Andrew Wilkie, says "Fracking would pose a major risk to Tasmania's brand. We're the flavour of the month due to our clean, green image and world-class produce, but this would all be put at risk if the State is opened up to a fracking free-for-all. Tourism and agriculture in particular are helping drive Tasmania's economic recovery".
Iconic Tourist Attractions Fracked?
Fracking is seen as a threat to existing tourism businesses in the UK and Canada. Fracking and tourism, especially the increasingly popular eco-tourism sector, cannot co-exist. Regions that promote themselves as pristine, natural tourism destinations can't afford to ignore local entrepreneurs who've put in years of hard work to develop successful long term tourism ventures. As one New Brunswickian says "our operators work hard for their livelihood. Whatever happens here, affects all."
Research on the potential effects of fracking on the tourism industry in New York found that in the short term, the area might enjoy some immediate economic benefit but, in the long term, could experience a significant economic degradation in an area heavily dependent on tourism.
In the scenic county of Leitrim in Ireland there are fears that fracking could damage tourism there. "The beauty we have needs to be kept and sold as a sustainable tourist product and not as a drill-site that can be found in any other place in the world".
Tasmanians are entitled to question whether our island's iconic tourist destinations and unique wilderness areas will be given special consideration by oil and gas companies.
As well as a number of declared National Parks across the country, iconic Australian tourism destinations threatened by invasive oil, gas and other fossil fuel mining operations include Uluru, Kings Canyon, The Pinnacles, The Scenic Rim, Broome and Lake Eyre to name a few.