The Flinders Wharf Tourism Innovation Hub (‘The Hub’) is a new concept with the primary objective of supporting local business innovation, expansion and production by delivering new visitor experiences on Flinders Island. The project will stimulate significant activity for a small economy in transition and assist this remote community to achieve economic growth, increase skills capacity and create jobs.

The vision is to develop a world-class hospitality and cultural experience on Flinders Island to increase the attraction of local, domestic and international visitors. It will also provide new opportunities for the development and growth of new businesses and investment, while directly benefiting other Island businesses and services, including transport and accommodation.

The project aligns with identified economic development and visitor economy priorities including those of the Flinders Island Destination Impact Plan; Flinders Council Strategic Plan 2015; Regional Tasmania Local Investment Plan; Tourism Northern Tasmania Destination Strategy; Northern Tasmania Development-Northern Regional Futures Project Framework; and, Tasmania’s Agri Food Plan: AgriVision 2050.

It will contribute to achieving the goals of increasing tourism to Tasmania by 2021 by attracting 3,000 new visitors to Tasmania from 2018 to 2021, building on the current estimated Flinders Island visitor base of 6,000 per annum. As demonstrated in the economic impact modelling, length of visitor stay and level of spend will increase through these expended activities and experiences.

The project will transform a currently disused storage shed at Flinders Wharf on the Whitemark Esplanade into a destination tourism hub, cultural and business centre where visitors experience the best that Flinders Island local producers and operators have to offer.

Tasports has granted the project partners a 20 year lease on the existing site at Flinders Wharf. A development application for the project is expected to be approved by Flinders Council in November 2017. The Hub concept has been designed to facilitate 3-6 long term businesses and a small number of short term rentals. The Hub will include:

  • The new Furneaux Whiskey Distillery
  • Relocation and expansion of the current A Taste of Flinders cafe/providore business
  • Helicopter tour business and booking office operated by Flinders Island Aviation Services and Unique Charters.
  • Long and short term office space for innovative island businesses and consultants.
  • A flexible function/conference room providing the highest capacity (90) of any venue on Flinders Island
  • A fully serviced bar opened four days a week and operating during functions, events and tastings.
  • A fully equipped commercial kitchen supporting events, conferences, functions, product development and skills training.
  • Tour booking and operation offices.
  • Art and cultural exhibition and interpretation space including promotion of indigenous work specific to the Furneaux Island Group.

The Hub project has been developed by the Quoin Collective group (led by Quoin Holdings) to grow like-minded innovative businesses on the island while generating social and economic dividends for the whole community.

The Quoin Collective consists of:

  • Lead Investor – Quoin Holdings and A Taste of Flinders cafe/providore (Jo and Tom Youl)
  • Furneaux Whiskey Distillery (Damien Newton-Brown)
  • Flinders Island Aviation Services and Unique Charters (Peter Barron)
  • Brymworth Farm Organic Garlic and Consulting (Mark and Sophie Pitchford)
  • Straitwater Bottled Water (Mick and Liz Grimshaw)

Each of these businesses will develop, manage and implement commercial operations at the Flinders Wharf Hub, together with other local producers and tour operators.

The Collective’s mission is to support and nurture local business and promote the best experiences and products that Island has to offer. Local connectivity, collaboration and participation is central to the project’s success. This spirit of collaborative endeavour and working in the interest of the community’s benefit will deliver enormous capacity to the project. External expertise with strong track records in visitor economy infrastructure will also be utilised to help drive the project and evaluate its success.

  • Construct and operate an innovative new retail, production and tourism business development ‘hub’ in Whitemark, using the existing Wharf Shed site, by the end of 2018.
  • Provide urgently needed commercial operation and expansion capacity for use by multiple established and startup businesses, generating sustainable economic growth.
  • Collaborate and cross-promote with key businesses that share a similar vision to create and market high quality ‘island made’ products and experiences.
  • Overcome existing barriers to visitation by creating a highly marketable and well branded destination experience that will grow awareness of Flinders Island and its unique attractions.
  • Create new and sustainable jobs that will contribute to the local economy and encourage population retention and growth.
  • Create new skills training and employment readiness opportunities in partnership with key education providers (i.e TasTAFE and Flinders Island District High School), particularly for young people.
  • Create new investment opportunities for Flinders Island and grow export markets
  • Generate direct and indirect economic benefit for the entire Island business ecosystem, including key transport providers.
  • Create a welcoming place that is an ongoing source of pride, engagement and interest for the whole community.
  • Deliver new opportunities for Indigenous employment and artists.

Independent modelling provided by the Institute of Project Management based on the RIOM model demonstrates that:

  • A combined output impact of $30.4 million is expected over the ten-year horizon, with a Gross Value Add Impact of $10.1, expected (excluding $10.2m of imports and other intermediate effects).
  • Local firms will also enjoy a new increase in commercial return attributable to the change in final demand. The producer surplus is modelled to be $3.8m for the project, ensuring a strong return on investment.
  • 8.2 new and additional jobs will be created in the construction phase, and when complete the project will support an additional 11.5 jobs per annum (5.9 FTE). The wages impact from the investment shows an additional $5.2m over the period modelled, with an estimated flow-on effect of $1.1m in taxation revenue received.

A key strategic aim is to help develop a high-quality skilled workforce across the island. The Hub will offer three traineeships through an employment pathway and work readiness program, with one exclusively reserved for a local school student and to include business skills training.

The hub will also be a centre for delivery of TasTafe Tourism and Hospitality courses including hospitality, Barista, Food Safety, RSA, Cookery and operational upskilling. We will work with key stakeholders to deliver these services including local schools, TAFE, Council, Regional Arts group, Aboriginal Association and other Government stakeholders.

Many of these new jobs will be created in the Accommodation, Tourism and Food Services industries covering a range of skills from owner/managers, chefs, whisky making, barista, food service, marketing and design innovators, tour guides, pilots, administrative staff, cultural centre manager and IT support. Sustainable employment will be achieved by increasing sales of higher profit goods and services, alongside domestic and international exports, and creating skills-based career paths.

There are currently no commercial production spaces available for lease on the island. The Hub will offer new state-of-the-art equipment to support businesses, including large water and energy efficient commercial kitchen and cleaning equipment, food and product labelling printers and bespoke distillery equipment.

These process innovations will help drive down costs and improve customer experiences. The Hub will provide the opportunity for product and brand design development reflecting the island’s identity, alongside implementation of a marketing innovation program targeting domestic and international customers.

We are already working with and building strong relationships with tourism access partners including Sharp Airlines, Flinders Island Aviation and Vortex. Operators have confirmed their willingness to increase transport capacity to support the higher levels of visitor demand driven by the project.

Aside from the economic benefits, there are a range of significant local community benefits that will be delivered. The Hub will be a highly visible centre of activity that nurtures community inclusion in a location with limited infrastructure for social interaction.

  • Dedicated space within the Hub will provide the opportunity to deliver skills-based programs for community members, together with opportunities for volunteer-based activity promoting the Island and supporting tourism operations. This will be a significant source of community participation, pride and interest.
  • For young people on the Island, the provision of training leading to locally based jobs will increase social engagement and the capacity to pursue meaningful career-paths in their place of residence.