Winter tourism in Tasmania: Visitors given free long johns on arrival to keep warm

Passengers on Virgin Australia flight VA1528 from Sydney to Hobart on Friday were treated to a pair of long johns to keep them warm during their visit.

Modelled by the pilot and cabin crew, the thermals are the latest in a series of promotions by Tourism Tasmania to encourage travellers to embrace winter in Australia's southernmost state as part of their Off Season campaign.

Made from sustainably grown merino wool, the Smitten Merino long johns come in five colours and were also given out at Launceston Airport on Saturday. Visitors will have a third and final chance to get a pair on July 2 at Hobart Airport.

Labelled "Loan Johns" for the campaign, the thermals were initially only going to be loaned to travellers for the duration of their stay in Tasmania. Thanks to the recent resurgence of COVID-19 in Victoria, the loaning element has been forgotten, but the pun of a name remains.

From initiatives like "Loan-Johns" to the annual Dark Mofo winter nude swim or a three-day truffle hunt as part of Off-Season, Tourism Tasmania often plays off the quirky nature of Tasmania in winter.

Tourism Tasmania chief executive John Fitzgerald says this is because winter is the best time to visit Tasmania, "other parts of Australia might endure winter, but Tasmanians have a different way of doing things. We embrace the season like nowhere else – winter is when we thrive."

Information gathered in  Tourism Tasmania visitor research over  a three-year period indicates the state experiences seasonal variation in domestic and international visitation, peaking in summer and falling away in autumn, spring and most noticeably, winter.

Before COVID-19, winter visitation to Tasmania averaged just over half, or 54 per cent, of the summer visitor numbers.

Despite winter being a traditionally quiet period for Tasmania, thanks to events like Dark Mofo and campaigns like off-season, visitation is increasing.

"We understand how to do winter properly and want to ensure our visitors are comfy and warm during their Off Season adventures. Our tourism industry has also got on board this campaign with hundreds of creative Off Season experiences that visitors can only enjoy during winter in Tassie", Fitzgerald said.

Until the end of June, those heading to Tasmania on board the Spirit of Tasmania can take their cars or motorbikes onboard for free in a rebate introduced by the federal government on March 1.