$2000 Strait fare rocks financial boat

TREVOR and De-Aarn Carleton visited Tasmania for the first time this month but will not be returning by boat when they next decide to visit.

The Carletons, of Western Australia, paid $2000 this year to bring their caravan across Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania - the same cost as overseas return flights to London.

Mr Carleton said they were fortunate they could afford the fee but believed that many more couldn't.

He said it would be cheaper to fly in and hire a motorhome, which is what the couple would do the next time they visited, he said.

``We've been very surprised by the lack of caravans on the road,'' Mr Carleton said.

``I'm assuming that the reasons are the nature of the roads and the cost of transporting them over.''

The Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, Australian Tourism and Transport Forum and Cradle Coast Tourism Executive claim in a submission to the Tasmanian Shipping Inquiry that the value of the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme rebate had fallen 40 per cent since it was established in 1996.

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin has said that even if just CPI indexation had been applied to the scheme since it was invoked, it would be worth up to $280 each way, not the current $204.

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