May 6, 2022 | By Marnie Craig, CEO of Business Events Tasmania
Not so very long ago, Tasmania was viewed by the rest of the world as that tiny little island at the bottom of the map, known primarily for apple production (earning us the moniker The Apple Isle) and the Tasmanian Devil (although usually the cartoon version as opposed to the world’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial version).
Back then, most of us fortunate enough to live here had at least one story of bumping into a tourist on their travels who had flown in and hired a car thinking they could drive around the entire island in just one day before flying back to Melbourne or Sydney the next morning. Technically, maybe you could, but you would be doing yourself an incredible injustice in the process.
Then in the early 2000s, the phenomenon that is Mona came along, putting Tasmania fairly and squarely on the map. All eyes were on us and the rest of the world finally caught up and caught on to what we Tasmanians had been unassumingly revelling in for years: the world’s cleanest air, pristine stretches of coastline, crisp and cool rugged alpine ranges, an abundance of fresh local produce and some of the best Pinot and whisky in the world.
Suddenly, being the tiny island at the bottom of the map was in vogue and everyone wanted in. With the spotlight firmly on us, people started looking beyond the old clichés, seeking to experience Tasmania’s own brand of the unique and the bespoke off the beaten track.
Our reputation for exceptional corporate and incentive experiences precedes us and whilst we will always deal in the boutique and the intimate, Tasmania can and does offer the best of both worlds when it comes to our business events sector.
We frequently host association conferences and events of scale in our major city centres in both the north and south, and despite the challenges COVID has afflicted on our industry over the past couple of years, a range of new products have launched since the last time many event organisers may have been to Tasmania, prior to the onset of the pandemic.
Hobart is home to two of the state’s largest conference and plenary spaces in Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart and Wrest Point Hotel & Conference Centre. The city can comfortably cater for association events up to 1,100 pax and regularly does.
Hobart’s first major conference since the onset of COVID was The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress held back in May 2021, which saw 850 delegates converge on Hobart for the five-day event held at Hobart Grand Chancellor. Since then, Tasmania has played host to a number of larger association conferences, with May 2022 set to exceed pre-pandemic levels for the same month in 2019.
A picturesque harbourside city, there are myriad options in Hobart for offsite events, cocktail functions and dinners, from the vineyards of the beautiful Coal River Valley just 15 minutes’ drive from the CBD, to hosting a unique gathering in one of the city’s beautiful heritage buildings.
A small island with big innovation, the other key drawcard of Tasmania for the association market is our local talent and strategic industries. As the gateway to the Antarctic, Tasmania is home to world leading researchers and oceanographers and our state has reached net zero emission status, powered entirely by renewables, thanks to our hydro electric and wind schemes.
Fertile volcanic soil and high rainfall has ensured the north of the state is a food bowl and hub for innovation in agriculture, and Tasmania is well versed in medical research, viticulture, aquaculture and sustainable forestry practices.
All of this makes for some pretty amazing field trips and our regionality means that delegates can be sitting in a plenary setting in the morning and by afternoon be participating in a site visit and learning about local innovation in real time, which is a huge bonus we have over some of Australia’s larger destinations where half an hour in a car doesn’t even get you across the city.
With University of Tasmania campuses in our three major metropolitan areas, Tassie boasts a brains’ trust of industry experts when considering keynote speakers from the host destination.
Both Launceston and Hobart are vibrant communities rich in history and culture with a thriving foodie scene. Delegates to these places can meander on foot to explore the best these cities have to offer all within walking distance of major conferencing facilities.
Although we are that tiny little island at the bottom of the map, Tasmania has impressive capacity to deliver on conference, event and AV capabilities like a larger city, yet provide delegates with the intimacy and charm of a small town, all wrapped up in an immersive and inspiring Tasmanian experience.