Spirit of Tasmania ferries to allow free travel for cars from March in bid to boost tourism

January 19th, 2021 | | industry

Spirit of Tasmania ferry passengers will be able to bring their car or motorcycle at no charge for a period of four months under an expansion of the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme to be announced today.

Key points:

  • Spirit of Tasmania passengers can bring their car or motorcycle for free from March 1 until June 30
  • The Federal Government has expanded to the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme to boost tourism
  • Travellers who come to Tasmania by sea make up 12 per cent of visitors, but contribute 20 per cent of visitor spending

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the expansion of the scheme would help Tasmania‘s tourism industry recover from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For travel between 1 March 2021 and 30 June 2021, Australians can take their car or motorbike to the Apple Isle at zero cost and discover everything this beautiful state has to offer,” Mr McCormack said.

The free travel for cars and motorcycles applies to travel on both the Melbourne to Devonport crossing and Devonport to Melbourne.

Assistant Industry Development Minister Jonathon Duniam said Spirit of Tasmania bookings dropped by 85 per cent because of the pandemic.

Senator Duniam said the free car travel would be a saving, on average, of about $240 return for travellers.

“That’s money they can now spend at small businesses, with tourism operators and in the many communities that are eager to welcome travellers back with open arms,” he said.

“Visitors who travel to Tasmania by sea are among the most valuable to the industry, they spend more, stay longer and travel further into our regional areas.

“In fact, these travellers account for 12 per cent of all visitors to Tasmania yet they contribute a massive 20 per cent of all annual visitor spending.”

The expansion of the scheme is worth $6 million and will go towards an estimated 25,000 Spirit of Tasmania return fares.

The free vehicle travel will end on June 30, or when the $6 million is spent, whichever happens first.

Passenger vehicles are already subsidised on the Spirit of Tasmania. The equalisation scheme exists to make the cost of taking a car across Bass Strait is similar to driving the same distance on the national highway network.

There is currently an average gap of $120 for a standard vehicle between the cost for ferry operator TT-Line to transport a vehicle across Bass Strait and the value of the equalisation scheme subsidy. The price gap is added to the ticket price.

Vehicles queued and waiting to embark the Spirit of Tasmania.
The free travel will end on June 30, or when the $6 million is spent, whichever happens first.(Facebook: Spirit Of Tasmania)

When the expansion of the scheme comes into effect, people travelling with a caravan or motor home will receive an average $240 saving for their vehicle.

When travellers book their ticket, the rebate will automatically apply.

The subsidy will also apply to passengers transporting an eligible passenger vehicle on routes to and from King Island or the Furneaux Group.

‘Historic and important’

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania CEO Luke Martin welcomed the decision and said the organisation has been calling for the relief since COVID-19 hit the state in March last year.

“It’s effectively the subsidy that’s paid to TT-Line for every vehicle that travels across the Bass Strait in lieu of the fact that we don’t have the national highway,” he said.

“They’re committed to increasing the subsidy temporarily from the 1st of March to the 30th of June, to effectively make it free to put a car on the Spirit of Tasmania service.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow