Like all sectors of the Tasmanian economy that rely on affordable and reliable access to the State, the tourism industry has been quite anxious about what impact the hike in Melbourne Port hire fees being imposed by the Victorian Government could have on the cost of sea travel to Tasmania.Fortunately - and in further positive news on the access issue - Spirit of Tasmania has been able to avoid the brunt of the proposed hike in price fees without passing it on to passenger fares. The increase in port hire fees will see an average $1 increase in Spirit of Tasmania passenger fares, which should not have a negative impact on visitation to Tasmania.
Spirit of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government, who together led the negotiations with the Victorian Government and Melbourne Ports to ensure the increase in Port hire fees did not negatively impact on Tasmania's tourism industry, deserve credit for securing a very positive outcome for our industry in difficult circumstances.
From Sunday, Spirit of Tasmania will have a carbon tax surcharge on their fares. The carbon tax surcharge on Spirit of Tasmania fares is almost exactly the same as the additional cost from the carbon tax of travelling to Tasmania with any of the major airlines. The cost of travelling to regional tourism destinations across Australia is going up as a result of the carbon tax, and this is something our industry has to work with.
Looking ahead, there is a valid argument that as Tasmania's highway to the mainland, Spirit of Tasmania should be compensated for the carbon tax, so it does not have to pass on any additional cost to its passengers.
Victorians are not being asked to pay the carbon tax when driving the Hume Highway from Melbourne to Sydney, and nor should they have to pay the carbon tax to take their car across Bass Strait when visiting Tasmania.