Becoming a Tasmania specialist is pretty impressive for someone who always forgot to add the island to the bottom of their Australia map in Geography.
Unfortunately I’m not alone in forgetting this small, beautiful state separated from the mainland by the Bass Strait. It’s a shame – my first visit two years ago far exceeded my expectations.
Roughly the size of Ireland, it has the extremes of the Australian mainland – forests, beaches, vineyards, funky cities – without the colossal distances, meaning clients can see all the highlights in less than a week.
And unlike the mainland, Tasmania has four distinct seasons with snow in the winter, red trees in the autumn and long, hot summers.
The Tasmania module of the Aussie Specialist programme is split into sections according to Tasmania’s four main regions, with Hobart (the capital) and Launceston (the second city) first, followed by the east for the beaches of Wineglass Bay, the middle for snow-capped Cradle Mountain and the west for the historic mining town of Strahan.
The format meant I could absorb the information in bite-size chunks, while a map restored my visual memory.
In fact, I was done before my coffee was cold. Was it me or was there less to read and fewer exam questions this time? The pass rate is still a tough 85%, but if a smaller state means a shorter exam, why doesn’t everybody (me included) tackle Tasmania first?
With a third specialist module now under my belt, I’m now happily working (and learning) my way around the country. Next stop Victoria.
What’s your story?
Michael Bridges, manager, CBT International Travel, Rossendale
When did you become both an Aussie Specialist and a Tasmania Specialist?
I did the Aussie Specialist programme about four years ago and passed the Tasmania module last October.
How long did it take you to do the exam?
About four days. I printed the pages off at work and took them home to do during the evenings.
What other modules have you taken?
I’ve done all of them now – I really wanted to become a Premier Aussie Specialist and the deadline for completion was before the end of December. Now it’s up to Tourism Australia to decide whether my application was successful.
Did you find this module easier or harder than other specialist modules?
About the same. I visited both Western Australia and Victoria last year for the cricket and found those modules easier as I’d had first-hand experience.
But it can work in two ways: visiting before taking the exam makes it easier to answer the questions as you have the experience, but going after the exam means you understand more about what you are seeing while you are there. A lot of tourist boards do similar sorts of online training but I think Tourism Australia is the pioneer.
Have you ever been to Tasmania?
I nearly hopped across when I was in Melbourne but didn’t find the time. I would love to go as I have clients who have recently returned and they raved about it.
What does it mean to you to be a Premier Aussie Specialist?
The online referral would be excellent. It used to happen when I first qualified, but there are so many Aussie Specialists around now, it’s hard to raise your profile. Being a Premier Specialist would do that.
Five lucky agents have another chance to win a bottle of wine and a Lonely Planet guide to Australia courtesy of Tourism Australia.
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