Is Tasmania the McCain’s pizza of Australian tourism?

At some stage in our lives, we’re all going to eat a McCain’s pizza.

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or visit Tasmania.

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We recently did both (our third visit, first McCain’s pizza) and there are a number of remarkable similarities between two experiences.

The McCain’s pizza comes in a large and colourful box. Inside the box is a somewhat smaller pizza.  This pizza comes with a colourful topping of limited nutritional value and a large claggy base.  You are not hungry when you’re finished,  but it’s a poor substitute for a decent meal.

Many, but not all aspects, of the Tasmania experience are similar in many ways.

Some of the non-McCain’s pizza experiences are a visit to the beautiful and pristine Wineglass Bay

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and a trip down the coast of Bruny Island which includes some spectacular scenery and truly scary trip out into the  Southern Ocean when the weather is rough.

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or one of the many beautiful walks at Lake St Clair.

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But then there is Peppers (Launceston) definition of a river view which does qualify for the McCain pizza award.

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While the bush walks around Lake St Clair are worth the two and a half  hour drive from Launceston, the boat trip up the lake is certainly not.

At $60 a head, this hour-long trip in an uncomfortable boat with dirty and badly scratched windows, punctuated by short stop at picturesque Echo Cove is worth neither the time or the money.

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Essentially, this is a ferry trip which shuttles bushwalkers who have completed the Cradle Mountain walk back to Dewent Bridge.  They simply fill the boat up with unsuspecting tourists to boost their profit margins.

The Cataract Gorge trip in Launceston in many ways  typifies the problems of Tasmanian tourism. The gorge itself is very beautiful,

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but the trip takes 50 minutes and approximately 20 of these are spent in the gorge, the other half hour is spent viewing such wonderful sites as the silo on the edge of the river.

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The Gordon River cruises have same problem. The shortest version of the cruise is three hours, of which approximately half an hour is spent in the Gordon River itself.

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The Gordon River is very beautiful but there is very little variation in the scenery and there’s a lot of travelling over a large expanse of water to get there.

The river itself has great social, ecological and political importance in Australian history but this was ruined by the commentary which appeared to be delivered by a rather inarticulate 14-year-old. Most guides at least give the impression of knowing what they’re talking about but when the guide consistently mispronounces Liberty Point as Librity Point, you get the impression she hasn’t done her homework.

A consistent problem throughout our trip was the inability of the hospitality industry to deliver up to the standard of the prices they were charging. This is particularly true in Lake St Clair and nearby Derwent Bridge where there are only two choices for dining out: the restaurant at the lake and the pub at Derwent Bridge.

The restaurant at Lake St Clair is probably the worst restaurant in Tasmania:

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a great setting but poor food and even worse service.

The pub clearly doesn’t have the staff to cope with the influx of tourists in the holiday season and service and  food suffer accordingly.

It’s a difficult problem for both the restaurant and the pub. Derwent Bridge is miles from anywhere  and there isn’t a large local population to provide casual labour during the peak tourist season so they are reliant on itinerary back packers, lovely people, but not the workforce that you can use to build consistently high service standards.

And then to top everything off you have to travel on Jetstar which consistently manages to under-deliver against its glossy advertisements.

Many of the aspects of a visit to Tasmania are spectacularly beautiful but the tourist industry is hampered by an validity to deliver service standards against prices that are being charged.

 

 

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