The tulips are blooming at Table Cape near Wynyard just in time for the school holidays and farmer David Roberts-Thomson is welcoming families from all over Tasmania.
“We’re finding there’s a lot more people from Hobart here … they’re normally a bit hard to coax up to the north-west coast,” Mr Roberts-Thomson said.
“We’re missing our international and national visitors, but it’s fairly similar.
“We’re still growing our tulips for bulb production so they were going to be in the ground anyway and we’re just delighted that people can come out and see it.”
Wynyard accommodation business owner Cyndia Hilliger said business had been picking up in the town.
“There’s a bit of tulip fever in Wynyard,” Ms Hilliger said.
Despite the pull of the tulips, without interstate and international tourists coming to the region, business for her is slower than usual.
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin said some places would be booming during the school holidays, while others would continue to struggle.
“For every Derby and St Helens that would be absolutely pumping in the next two weeks because of mountain biking and Tasmanian families getting away, there’s a lot of larger properties that employ a lot of people that are just unable to get the sort of numbers that they need to be sustainable,” Mr Martin said.
Don River Railway near Devonport has reduced its operating hours since borders closed.
The railway’s Barry Pickett said in a usual year, 60 per cent of visitors come from outside Tasmania, and border closures had been “tough” for the attraction.
“The Tasmanian public’s been fantastic … but we can only draw on the local market for so long,” he said.
Talk of a potential “travel-bubble” between Tasmania and New Zealand has some tourism operators excited.
“We’d love to see the New Zealanders come over here and I’m sure there’s a lot of Tasmanians that’d like to go to New Zealand,” Mr Pickett said.
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Travel bubble could be a Christmas gift
New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said he hoped there could be a travel bubble between New Zealand and some Australian states before Christmas.
He said New Zealand was waiting for assurances from Australia that it had the right protocols in place for such arrangements.
Mr Peters said Tasmania, Queensland and New South Wales were the states being considered.
He said “a lot of New Zealanders … would be very keen” to come to Tasmania.
Excitement ‘tempered’ until health experts give green light
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said on Monday that it would be strange for Tasmania to be welcoming New Zealanders into the state if borders were still closed to interstate visitors.
For Tasmania to have a direct link to New Zealand, customs and immigration infrastructure and personnel would be needed at Hobart Airport — something that received a funding commitment under the Hobart city deal.
Mr McCormack said he would continue to have discussions with Tasmanian Infrastructure Minister Michael Ferguson.
“[We] need to have those discussions with the Home Affairs Department, too. We need to make sure that the right provisions are in place,” Mr McCormack said.
While the Tasmanian Government has jurisdiction over the state border, it is the Federal Government that is responsible for international arrivals into Australia.
Mr Ferguson said a travel bubble with New Zealand was “exciting but we’ll temper our excitement because we won’t be prepared to be supportive of such travel arrangements until our expert public health guides us”.
He said border services needed at Hobart Airport if international flights to and from the airport were to eventuate could be arranged.
“They would potentially be interim arrangements, perhaps not long term, while long term arrangements were also established.”
Luke Martin said he was confident the border services needed at the airport would be put in place.
“We’ve always wanted to get the international flight to New Zealand, well before COVID,” he said.
“New Zealand’s a sleeping giant market for us, potentially.”