NRMA shopping for tourism assets after making inroads in Tasmania

Strahan Village, pictured, Freycinet Lodge and Cradle Mountain Hotel have all been purchased by the NRMA, as well as Gordon River Cruises. Picture: Tourism Tasmania and Rob Burnett

Fresh from its recent $130m acquisition of a number of key Tasmanian resorts, NSW-based motoring organisation the NRMA said it is on a path to acquire more tourism assets around Australia.

“We are going shopping to expand and we want to make more (tourism) precincts,” NRMA Expeditions chief executive officer Rachel Wiseman told the embattled tourism industry recently.

Ms Wiseman said the NRMA, which has at least $930m worth of tourism assets and is one of the largest tourism operators and owners in Australia, was looking to continue to invest in tourism with the emphasis on products that include hotels and nearby attractions such as cruises.

In March, the NRMA defied the tourism downturn with the acquisition of several high-profile Tasmanian resorts, including Frey­cinet Lodge and Cradle Mountain Hotel, Strahan Village and Gordon River Cruises.

The majestic Freycinet Lodge within Freycinet National Park. Picture: Tourism TAS

Under the deal, the NRMA, which has a national network of holiday parks, also acquired a 46 per cent stake in Cairns-based Coral Expeditions cruise line, which has done well out of Covid-19 with a series of fully booked out cruise itineraries around the Kimberleys.

“I think we can do more in Tasmania and we would like to establish a (tourism) precinct in NSW,” Ms Wiseman said.

The NRMA is looking for more opportunities in Tasmania as well as NSW, Western Australia and Queensland.

Ms Wiseman described the co-location of Gordon River Cruises with the Strahan Village in Tasmania as a phenomenal success and indicative of what she calls a tourism precinct.

“Strahan Village and Gordon River Cruises work beautifully together. People will stay in the village and go on the cruise.”

Snow blankets the ground and buildings at Cradle Mountain Hotel

Snow blankets the ground and buildings at Cradle Mountain Hotel. Picture: Cradle Mountain Hotel

Ms Wiseman told a Tourism Australia briefing that the NRMA was spending millions of dollars upgrading Cradle Mountain and was going shopping to expand.

“When it (tourism) comes back, it comes back hard and fast,” she said. “It did last time and it will again.”

The Tasmanian hotel assets were acquired from the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT).

NRMA Expeditions is spending significant amounts upgrading the Tasmanian properties including the Freycinet Lodge, Cradle Mountain Hotel and Strahan Village.

Meanwhile, federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said that once Australia hit the 80 per cent vaccination mark by Christmas “we will be able to turn the corner”.

Gordon River, near Strahan, Tasmania. Picture Gordon River Cruises.

“At the moment tourism is as tough as it has been,” he said, adding that businesses around Uluru had been badly affected by the lack of flights into the Red Centre from the major capitals. Flights have plummeted from 94 direct flights a week from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to just three from Brisbane.

Voyages, which controls five hotels at Uluru, said it had lost more than 80 per cent of its hotel and resort occupancies.