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Skål Hobart & TICT Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program

The career opportunity of a lifetime!

The Emerging Leaders Scholarship is designed to encourage and foster innovation, leadership and professional development within the Tasmanian tourism industry.

The 2017 scholarship recipient, Jason Licht from Cumulus Studios, is currently undertaking his study tour of California, focusing on Californian bungalow architecture and how this may be adapted to the Tasmanian landscape.  We look forward to his report on his findings upon his return.

The 2016 inaugural scholarship recipient, Hannah Martin’s report is detailed below:

TICT/ Skal Club of Hobart Tasmanian Tourism Future Leader Scholarship

Hannah Martin, Federal Group Communications and Corporate Affairs Coordinator

SCHOLARSHIP REPORT

STUDY TOPIC

The purpose of the study was to investigate ways to increase VFR activity linked to Tasmania’s growing international student population.The international student sector is worth more than $164 million annually to Tasmania’s economy and there are more than 5000 international students enrolled in Tasmanian primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Both the Tasmanian Visitor Economy Strategy 2015-2020 (t21) and the Department of State Growth’s Global Education Growth Strategy identify that the increasing number of international students in Tasmania represents an opportunity for the state’s tourism industry. State Growth and the University of Tasmania are focused on attracting more international students to the state. This represents an opportunity to boost visitation and yield from friends and family travelling to Tasmania to visit international students.

KEY ACTIVITIES• Established a working committee with representatives from UTAS, State Growth, the TICT and Federal Group to help shape and inform the scope of the study.• Met with and interviewed more than 25 professionals in the tourism and education sectors, across Australia and overseas.• Spent four weeks travelling interstate and overseas. Destinations were:- Queenstown and Christchurch (NZ)- Hong Kong- Surrey, London, Cambridge and Oxford (UK)- Queensland• Shared summary findings with the Tasmanian working committee upon returning from the study tour.• Presented a workshop at the Tourism Conference providing a snapshot of the international student sector in Tasmania and relevant opportunities for the tourism industry.  • Met with representatives from State Growth to discuss the new Global Education Unit and attended a meeting of the Premier’s Tourism Advisory Committee.

KEY OBSERVATIONS• Providing opportunities for the tourism industry to interact with international students boosts the potential for students to influence the visitor economy. • International students who participate in a range of tourism experiences develop a greater appreciation of a destination, which boosts their potential to be positive advocates and to stimulate increased VFR activity.• Boosting VFR activity linked to international student numbers is not a priority for universities and education institutes, which can make it difficult for the tourism sector to implement strategies aimed at achieving this.• All destinations reported some degree of difficulty in engaging universities to support tourism initiatives. • Destinations with the strongest relationships between tourism and education institutes were those that had dedicated bodies/ organisations that pulled together their shared interests: ie. marketing bodies that were exclusively focused on promoting a region as a study destination.  Places where these organisations were jointly funded by the educational institutes had even greater engagement again.

CONSIDERATIONS• Positioning Tasmania as a serious study destination: identifying unique fields of study, local experts in these fields and cutting-edge research opportunities. • Marketing should realistically portray the student experience and lifestyle on offer to international students. Tasmania is not a bustling, cosmopolitan destination and offers a very different lifestyle to that which many international students may be used to (often coming from places with large populations, vast public transport networks, round-the-clock dining and extensive retail outlets). There is a real risk to growing this sector if students do not enjoy their time here; particularly through negative word-of-mouth feedback to the market. • Limited cultural diversity in Tasmania: on the one hand parents are concerned about how their children will be accepted in to the community, and on the other hand, they like the fact their children will have greater opportunities to have genuine local experiences and an opportunity to improve their English speaking skills (as they won’t be able to rely on the comfort of large expat communities). • Some academics and tourism officials questioned UTAS’s Launceston focus, raising concerns that Launceston had limited appeal to international students.• There is limited information available about current VFR activity linked to international students. Research that looks at when friends and family visit, how many times they visit, where they stay and what they do, would be very beneficial to the tourism industry. • Student experience coordinators at UTAS were supportive of the idea of providing international students with greater opportunities to experience a range of Tasmanian tourism products, however they weren’t able to provide specific examples of how operators could promote an experience to students.

OPPORTUNITIES• The Let’s Explore Tasmania discount card for tourism products: UTAS and TICT agree the idea is a good one, but it needs some reinvigoration.• Study tours: short-stay visits with links to educational curriculums, which turn tourism products/ experiences into outdoor classrooms. • How can tourism operators with products that may be of interest to international students promote these opportunities directly to students?Similarly, how can tourism operators advertise employment opportunities to international students? • The Golden Ticket- a competition run during O-week, to giveaway a VIP pass to a year’s worth of iconic Tasmanian events and tourism activities (eg. Taste, Dark Mofo, a Three Capes experience, a winery tour and gourmet paddock to plate dining experience). Ideally the entry mechanism would identify a potential winner with a strong social media presence and someone from a key source market for international students. The competition during O-week should also provide an opportunity to promote tourism experiences to the international student population.• Graduation celebration holidays- package holidays aimed at parents coming to Tasmania to attend their child’s graduation, or for small groups of students to celebrate post-graduation.

SUMMARY There are significant benefits for Tasmania’s tourism industry resulting from efforts to grow international student numbers. The tourism industry must determine how best to capitalise on this opportunity and what research and resources it is willing to invest in realising this potential. Strengthening relationships between the tourism industry and education groups is necessary to increase opportunities for the tourism industry to directly engage with international students. Operating models that best facilitate a coordinated approach between tourism, government and educational groups are those that not only have representation from each sector, but also draw funding from a range of non-government sources (ie. universities and education groups). This provides greater incentive for joint activity between all parties and ensures initiatives are focused and targeted. Places like Queenstown, NZ and Adelaide have models worth considering. ACKNOWLDEMENTS It was an absolute privilege to undertake this study as the inaugural recipient of the TICT/ Skal Club of Hobart Tasmanian Tourism Future Leader Scholarship. I would like to acknowledge my employer, Federal Group, for supporting me (both financially and administratively) to undertake the study, and for facilitating my four-week absence from the workplace during the travel component of the study. Most importantly, I want to thank Skal Club- Hobart and the TICT for providing the scholarship and for supporting professional development within the tourism industry. Without doubt, one of the things that drew me to a career in Tasmania’s tourism industry was the sense of comradery and passion shared by those who work in the sector. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and for the many wonderful professional relationships I have been able to establish throughout this process.