Tasmania’s peak tourism body said the Hobart’s Lord Mayor extraordinary outburst today was an embarrassment to Hobart City Council and the City.
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania CEO Luke Martin said it was alarming that an "unelected accidental Lord Mayor" could risk doing so much damage to his Council’s reputation.
“Ron Christie seems to be on a one man mission to make himself the laughing stock of Tasmania,” Mr Martin said.
“Unfortunately his title ensures he risks dragging Hobart City Council’s reputation down with him.
“Hobart is Australia’s most tourism dependent capital city, responsible for the employment of 1 in 8 of its citizens, who are this morning picking up the newspaper to read how they are being “brainwashed” into thinking tourism’s a good thing." said Mr Martin in response to comments made in Hobart's Mercury newspaper by the Mayor.
Mayor Ron Christie is quoted in today's Mercury saying "most of the issues plaguing Hobart, including traffic congestion, fast-paced hotel construction, the tripling of Airbnb accommodation and the housing crisis could all be attributed to the influx of mass tourism"
Mr Martin says “Hobart City council has a proud history of supporting tourism through its investment in major events like the Taste of Tasmania, supporting the State’s most popular visitor attractions in Salamanca Market and Mt Wellington, and running our busiest visitor information centre.
“Unfortunately the Council contribution to the industry is now being undermined by its shock-jock Lord Mayor."
“Alderman Christie’s rogue comments on Dark Mofo over the past few days have been widely ridiculed, but to double-down today with this bizarre anti-tourism diatribe crosses a new threshold of absurdity.
Mr Martin said some of Mr Christie’s key points in his opinion piece in the Mercury were preposterous and factually fantastic.
“Comparing Hobart’s one million annual visitors to the experience in Rome, Paris and Barcelona - large cities who each attract more visitors every year than the entire population of Australia - is like comparing Hobart’s traffic congestion to LA or Beijing -It’s an absurd measure." according to Mr Martin
“His suggestion Dark Mofo is targeting 500,000 visitors next year would mean half of all Hobart’s visitors in 2019 would need to arrive in the State over one single fortnight in June - it’s bonkers.
Mr Martin went on to say “Last week’s Tasmanian Visitor Survey results show visitor numbers to Hobart over the past 12-months increased by a modest 3% - hardly a spiral of out of control unconstrained growth. " “Far from being, as the Lord Mayor seems to suggest, the root cause of all Hobart's ills can anyone imagine how dramatically different Hobart would be today without MONA and the tourism growth over the past few years?"
Mr Martin said he was certain Mr Christie’s comments were out of touch with both the Hobart community and his own Council colleagues.
“An EMRS survey undertaken in April, found two-thirds of Southern Tasmanian thought the current level of visitor growth to the State was “about right”.
“Indeed, just as many residents said the current rate of visitor growth to the region was too low as too high.
“I’ve also had some Hobart City Council Alderman contact me overnight after they were made aware of Alderman Christie’s comments running in today's paper, assuring our industry the Lord Mayor’s comments were not in any way reflective of the council’s position.
“Frankly, I think we all agree October’s Local Government Elections can not come soon enough for Hobart City Council.”