Tasmania’s Huon Valley Council has partnered with the university of Tasmania on a new tourism tracking app which will provide fresh data about the impact the of the devastating January bushfires on tourism.
The app will also help businesses hit by the disaster to recover, says Mayor Bec Enders.
“This is a great tool that provides Council and industry with a better understanding of why people are visiting the area,” she said. “It will help us tailor for economic growth in the Valley.”
The Huon Valley was at the centre of bushfires that devastated large parts the state earlier this year, destroying homes and shutting down businesses.
These included the Tahune Air walk, which attracted nearly 100,000 visitors a year, and award-winning wine maker Home Hill Winery which saw sales plummet by up to 50 per cent in some markets because of smoke damage to its pinot noir grapes.
“The impact of the bushfires is already showing on our visitor numbers and with the Tahune Airwalk closed we are noticing a huge decline in visitors through our door,” Home Hills Winery director Rosemary Bennett said.
Monitoring visitor’s movements
The Huon Valley app will use the University’s Gulliver tourism tracing technology to gather information on visitor movements, and this will be compared with previous data to get a picture of visitor behaviour and how the tourisim industry is recovering.
The University of Tasmania’s Professor Kate Darian-Smith said the data would provide detailed information in the wake of the fires.
“We hope this will help operators with their future marketing efforts and assist the Council in determining where infrastructure improvements are needed,” she said.
It’s the second initiative to help the tourism industry by the university since the fires, following a Fire Forum in May which heard from leading international experts in tourism crisis recovery.
“We believe this app will provide significant benefits for the Huon Valley,” Associate Professor Anne Hardy said.
“The data on tourists’ movement collected from the app will be analysed by the University of Tasmania and can be synced with data that the Tourism Tracer research team collected prior to the fires in 2016, 2017 and 2018.”
The data will be presented to council at the end of the year.
The Huon Valley has a long history of bushfires. The worst was on February 7 1967 when 62 people died and more than 1,300 homes were lost.
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