Hello world, it's Tassie calling

Written By miftah nugraha on Minggu, 03 Februari 2013 | 19.55

Battling tourism business operators, from left, Wally Lyne, Roger Self, Gary Hooper, Heather Henri, Kate McCarthy, and John Hay put out their SOS yesterday. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

"A MILLION likes would be great ... but paying us a visit would be even better."

That's the message tourism officials hope will spread around the world, through a social media campaign to arrest the tourism downturn in the bushfire-stricken Tasman Peninsula and elsewhere in the state.

The Sunday Tasmanian today partners tourism authorities to launch the campaign and drive tourism traffic back to the state.

For many operators it should be their busiest time of the year but accommodation houses are battling for business.

Guests have cancelled holidays or asked for discounts of up to 50 per cent to stay at venues on the Tasman Peninsula or East Coast.

Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said it was too early to tell just how much the bushfires would cost the state's tourism industry.

But operators and regional tourism groups want to take action to limit the impact and let the world know they're open for business.

Mr Martin said they wanted to send the message viral, and they needed help from everyone.

He pointed Tasmanians to the Port Arthur & Tasman Tourism Association Inc Facebook page and urged them to click "like" on the Open For Business campaign.

"Then make sure you share the post with family and friends," he said.

People are being urged to post on social media with the tags #tassiecalling and #openforbusiness.

Similar campaigns have been run in Australia and overseas with overwhelming success, sharing thousands of photographs, videos and experiences through social media to boost tourism trade and bolster local economies.

Fox and Hounds Resort owner Jo Dias was concerned it could take a long time for local tourism businesses to recover from the bushfires.

"We were into the first week of the busiest three weeks of our year [when the bushfires hit] and it just disintegrated," she said.

"Apart from the [hotel] rooms, our restaurant normally does upwards of 150 people a night. It's gone from that to zero.

"There are people worse off than we are, but in order to keep the [region] going businesses need to function."

It was a similar story for Wally Lyne from Port Arthur Villas who said guests had cancelled bookings for coming weeks, demanding full refunds, while others had offered to stay at heavily discounted rates.

"The next week or so I'm down to one or two people [staying] a night and this is a period when we're normally fully booked out," he said.

"This is the time we normally get our reserve to carry us through winter."

Tourism Minister Scott Bacon encouraged Tasmanians to support by visiting the Tasman Peninsula or East Coast for an overnight visit.

"One of the best things we can do is spend a night or two in those parts of the state that have been affected by the fires," he said.

Find more holiday and travel ideas and information on the Discover Tasmania and Tasman region websites.

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