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Selling Tasmania: Boosterism and the creation of the tourist state 1912-1928

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Harris, Simon (1993) Selling Tasmania: Boosterism and the creation of the tourist state 1912-1928. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis traces a shift in public policy. Its title "Selling Tasmania" is double-edged.
Not only do we discuss the advertising of the island to "outsiders". In fact that issue is
minor. Tourist advocates in the first quarter of the century concentrated much of their
efforts on "educating" the Tasmanians themselves. In the period 1 9 1 2- 1 928 tourism in
Tasmania went from being a trade to an industry. As such it demanded "national"
outlook and organisation. In 1914 a state Tourist Department was established under the
Commissioner of railways. A Director formulated state-wide policies aimed at
distributing tourists over a broader geographical and temporal range. This demanded
infrastructural investment in roads and accommodations and the campaigns for both
helped convince "non-tourist" interests that tourist arguments could be employed in
many areas. Tasmania, an island, also found tourism a valuable bargaining chip in its
constant battle for adequate shipping facilities. Throughout the period less and less
people found reason to voice doubts about Tasmania taking the tourist road.
Although centralisation of tourist organisation under the Director brought immediate
and steady growth, a number of commercial and regional interests were less than
satisfied with the status quo. In 1 923, after a Royal commission into the railways, the
Director was removed from office and the Departmental vote for advertising reduced.
Then followed a period of testing whether voluntary business-led organisation could
fill the Director's role. Despite some remarkable successes in state-wide organisation,
regionalism and lack of proper management saw the government left with little option
but to restore affairs to the 1 9 1 4-23 model. Never since has a Tasmanian government
forsaken the industry.
The above events were not decided within government or the public service. Instead
the state's acceptance of financial responsibility for tourist promotion and regulation
resulted from the efforts of ''boosters''. In the course of the thesis a "commercial-civic
elite" is identified. Existing in subsets in the two cities and many towns of the island,
they also formed a pan-Tasmanian elite, displaying rivalry at times but basically likeminded.
The boosters were the "movers and shakers" of society, essentially
bourgeois, imbued with ethics of civic responsibility, and certain that benefit to them
meant benefit throughout the community. It was the boosters who kept tourism on the
agenda through the period 19 12- 1928. They convinced government that the tourist
industry was "honourable" and worthy of taxpayer investment. Eventually government
also came to realise that the Tourist Department afforded a useful tool for bolstering
public morale, for Selling Tasmania to the Tasmanians.
11
By no means a "class analysis", the thesis nevertheless provides insights into the
ruling ideology of Tasmanian urban bourgeois business elites in the period. It brings
politics into an area of historical study dominated by geographers, sociologists and
economists. Its observations, based on the Tasmanian case study, claim applicability to
Australia in general and in fact much of the industrial-capitalist world. While it is in
many ways "local history"", reference is made to comparative developments
elsewhere. The thesis is therefore a foray into "business history" and "administrative
history", both much-neglected in the Australian genre. Themes also reviewed are
parochial conflict and "state-nationalism", state-federal relations, the regulationderegulation
cycle, technological change, developmentalism, propagandism and
"boosterism". It reflects upon such concepts as "civic pride", "hegemony", "natural
leadership", and the media's role as publicists of the "advertising classes".

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

Copyright The Author.
The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2013 21:58
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:55
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