What type of tourism should Tasmania have?
True tourism is when the visitor experiences the life and the environment of the locals. In essence they blend in and absorb. There is another type of tourism which has become very prevalent and could be called “manufactured” tourism. This is when visitors in large numbers arrive only briefly and then leave our shores really not experiencing the real Tasmania.
Tourists of this manufactured kind can over stay their welcome. This is currently being seen in Europe where places like Venice (Italy) reveal that the residents have had enough because of their lives being dramatically altered. This type of ugly tourism can make the natives feel like living in a zoo.
The proposed Cambria Green resort project is one of these manufactured tourist schemes, which do not entirely benefit the locals changing their lifestyle. It certainly will benefit the big end of town and for governments, State and local who then can boast of growth figures, even though the economic positiveness is not passed down to the general population.
The original Cambria is of great historic significance to Tasmania and perhaps more can be made of this for Tasmanians and visitors alike. It was the home of George Meredith with Cambria being the ancient name for Wales. It was known as “Government House” with a procession of Governors and their wives staying there. At one time son Charles (who was to come a politician and there is a memorial to him on the Queen’s Domain) and wife Louisa Anne lived on the property. Louisa was an outstanding observer of colonial life and society. Described by historian Douglas Pike as a “poet in feeling” she was much more than a writer, but also an artist, naturalist and botanist who achieved international fame. She wrote of Cambria: “commands an extensive view of large tracts of bush and cultivated land and across from Head of Oyster Bay of the Schoutens.”
Now it is to be a golf course, 100 room five star hotel (where locals cannot afford to stay), 300 units and an airstrip. While the developer said the historical aspects of the property will be maintained, one wonders how will this be achieved.
To be truthful it will only be a playground for those overseas visitors who can afford it. They will fly in (own airstrip) enjoy the manufactured surroundings, then fly out….what have they really seen or experienced of the true Tasmania? Little.
I have said it before and I will say it again, Tasmania’s attraction is being Tasmania; in other words, being unique. Our lifestyle, our small population, our history, the scenery, quality of product, our distinctiveness is what attracts people to our beautiful island. We can boom with proper visitations, but these “playgrounds” will only destroy our lifestyle.
I repeat, the true experience of tourists should be to experience the REAL Tasmania. As an example of this, some years ago I was employed to take a day trip of visitors from New Jersey in a mini bus. The itinerary was ridiculous. Picking them up from the boat, I first took them up Mount Wellington, then to Salmon Ponds, then to National Park, then to Richmond and the finally back to the departing vessel. All within a few hours. They were totally exhausted and some of the elderly ones complained – and quite frankly I did not blame them. I thought the whole thing embarrassing. Did they see the real Tasmania? No.
It is pleasing that many community groups have taken the time to protest against the Cambria development with similar developments going on throughout Tasmania. The problem is of course in such circumstances, whole areas are changed dramatically and forever and after the damage, the developer moves on to another project and does likewise.
Do we need development? Of course, we can’t stay in a time warp – but we can have good and controlled development. Can we have a successful tourist industry which is welcomed by the locals and not abhorred? Of course, but not this ugly and stressful input.
On many occasions the local are treated like second class citizens because of the perceived need to attract huge numbers of visitors. As another example, when booking into a Tamar resort I also booked a seat for dinner in the dining room. In the meantime, two large tourist buses arrived and because so, I was delegated to the bar. In the morning hoping for a fine breakfast I found that the tourists had already come and gone, leaving little left; it was like a horde of locusts had descended on everything. Leaving the premises to return home, I, stopping at a dining premises down the Mainland, was refused entry because a tourist bus had come and there was no room. This type of thing can only build resentment from locals.
The developer has stated that those who will be staying at Cambria will be people from China and finance will be coming from both China and the USA. To be quite frank I am tired of our politicians who are prepared to sell our real estate out to the highest and short term buyer. To those who may charge me with “racism” let me say, the Cambria development in its present form from any nationality would be opposed by me.
The fact is that such a massive development with change the attractiveness of the area. It is true I do not live in Glamorgan, although I am a member of the local history society and and my family, the Watsons, were colonial settlers. However, the east coast is also the playground of all Tasmanians and quite frankly, we do not like our State exploited.