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News & Advice

Tasmanian officials invite "convictourists" to explore their prisons

Tourism officials from the Australian island of Tasmania have devised a new type of tourism to describe their unique offerings - and they're calling it "convictourism."

As part of the recent update to the UNESCO World Heritage list, 11 Australian convict sites were added to the list, five of them in Tasmania, which tourism officials think will be a hit with tourists.

"When you ask people what comes to mind when they think of Tasmania, the first thing they usually mention is our wilderness," said Tasmanian tourism chief Felicia Mariani.

"The listing is great news for our tourism industry, and will allow us the opportunity to build an additional dimension to our visitors' experiences."

Visitors to the sites will be able to "follow the convict trail" and trace their ancestors through time using some of the best kept records in convict history, says Tourism Tasmania.

Unlike some of the other penal sites, the ones in Tasmania are positioned fairly close together, which means tourists can see more than one on a trip - each site served a specific purpose in terms of punitive imprisonment or rehabilitation.

Port Arthur, some 60 km from Hobart on the Tasman Peninsula, is already one of the region's most popular tourist destinations, with 60 buildings to be explored set across an eerily picturesque landscape.

Sold by the British authorities as an "inescapable prison," it has a lot in common with Alcatraz Prison - now a major tourist attraction in San Francisco Bay.