Bass Strait rebate could bring flood of boaters

HOARDS of fishermen will descend on Tasmania if the cost of bringing trailer boats to the state is slashed, according to Boating Industry Association of Victoria spokesperson Ben Scullin.

"At the moment no one's coming, because it's too expensive to bring your boat," he said.

The industry body has submitted a proposal to the Productivity Commission to extend rebate schemes in place for caravans crossing Bass Strait to trailered boats.

If the changes are adopted, fishermen will be able to claim a rebate of up to $408 a trip to bring a trailered boat.

Mr Scullin said at least 2500 boats were expected to make the journey if the submission was successful.

"The industry is worth about between $16 million and $20 million a year to Tasmanian tourism, just by opening the gate for boats coming to Tasmania from the mainland," he said.

Mr Scullin said the potential for job creation and economic contribution through the planned changes was "a real sweet spot".

"Boating tourists usually spend five times more than a daily domestic tourist while on holiday," he said.

"It's really a no-brainer - the industry is a low- hanging fruit."

Opposition business spokesman Rene Hidding said Tasmania was "missing out" on fishing tourism dollars.

"It's very valuable as a market, and Tasmania isn't getting its share," he said.

The submission will be considered over the Christmas period. A draft discussion paper is expected to be released in late January.

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