A decision to scrap an iconic northern Tasmanian tourism experience amid a downturn in beer consumption has been slammed by the premier and locals alike.
- The more than 160-year-old Launceston brewery is closing its visitors centre on January 30
- Boag’s Brewery will no longer run the bar or tours of the facility
- The company’s owner, Lion, says it will mean the loss of 13 jobs
Boag’s Brewery tours in Launceston will be permanently axed.
Boag’s owner, Lion Australia, said in a statement declining beer consumption, rising costs and the impact of COVID on the hospitality and tourism industries have made operating difficult over recent years.
It said the decision to close Boag’s hospitality and tour offerings, including the visitor centre, bar and function hire, would allow it to focus purely on brewing beer.
The decision would impact two permanent staff members and 11 casual employees.
A spokesperson for Lion said it would offer to redeploy them in other areas of its company where possible.
“Sadly, this will result in some job impacts at the Boag’s Visitor Centre,” the spokesperson said.
“We are incredibly grateful to these team members who have warmly hosted visitors and shared their passion for Boag’s with locals and tourists alike.”
Closure ‘a significant blow’
For many, the Boag’s tours are seen as an institution in Launceston and are at the top of many tourists’ to-do list.
For two decades workers have conducted tours and showcased the company’s products to visitors and locals.
Brock Kerslake was a brewery guide at Boag’s for over a decade.
He said tours were very popular.
“It was certainly something visitors to Launceston had as a must-do thing when they were in town,” he said.
“If you take away one of the main tourism icons from the city it has an impact on all the other operators because there’s less for people to do and less experiences for people to enjoy while they’re in town.
“It does have an impact on the north and on Launceston.”
Launceston mayor Danny Gibson said he was disappointed by the closure and described it as a “significant blow” for Launceston’s visitor economy.
“The Boag’s visitor centre and brewery tours are consistently ranked extremely highly by visitors to Launceston through feedback to the Launceston Visitor Information Centre and through a range of tourism review websites,” Mayor Gibson said
“In point of fact, the James Boag Brewery Experience is ranked by Tripadvisor visitors among Launceston’s top three most popular activities, alongside visits to iconic Launceston destinations like the Cataract Gorge and City Park.”
Mayor Gibson is seeking further information.
“Lion has pointed to a range of COVID-19-related factors in its decision making, and there’s no doubt the past few years have been extremely tough for all kinds of businesses,” he said.
“However, it’s my intention to seek a meeting with Lion as soon as practicable to better understand the decision and to explore any opportunities to reconsider the closure in the future.”
Premier calls for a rethink
The Premier Jeremy Rockliff has called on Lion to reconsider their decision.
“I am disappointed at this decision, which is a massive kick in the guts for both the workers at the site and the local Launceston economy,” he said.
“The Boag’s visitor centre has been an iconic drawcard for Launceston for decades that attracts visitors from across the country, and there’s no doubt its closure will be detrimental to the northern economy.
“I understand the mainland owner has cited the impact of COVID-19 as justification for this decision, but with our economy strong and visitors returning in record numbers, this does not appear to pass the pub test.”
Mr Kerslake said the popular tour gave people an insight into the brewing process.
“It gave people a really good look at a working brewery,” he said.
“It wasn’t one of these visitor centre experiences where you don’t actually go into the brewery, this was where you went into the brewery and smelt the beer being made and you could see it going into the bottles.
“It does seem like an unusual decision by Lion to end these tours which created brand ambassadors for them.
“I find it a shame that they’ve made this decision, visiting breweries around the world is very, very popular with tourists so it seems an incredibly unusual decision to make.”
The tours will end on January 30.