Tourism boss warns of using MONA funding as a ‘political football’

MONA founder David Walsh.

The Tasmanian tourism industry has been warned not to allow partisan interest to turn it into a “political football”.

Speaking to the Mercury, Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chairman Daniel Leesong said the tourism sector could be the state’s latest “whipping boy” after the Liberals attributed wins in the marginal seats of Braddon and Bass to their campaign against Labor funding promises to MONA.

“The apparently successful attempt over the past few weeks to use Mona of all things to divide Tasmanians is exactly what we’ve spent the last 20 years as an industry trying to avoid,” Leesong said.

“As an industry we must not stand for this or we will risk the broad political and community support tourism enjoys and, in that event, we all lose.”

Leeson also slammed the proposal to cap visitor numbers to some of the island’s most popular tourist destinations and introduce bed taxes, calling them “crazy”.

“We’re not saying we’re the solution to all things Tasmania, but at the same time, we want to make sure that these debates are done in a way that’s healthy and not disruptive,” he said.

“However, healthy debate is no excuse for attacking our industry and its contribution to this state or those among us who put everything on the line trying to create new tourism ventures.”