Car fee waiving backed

WAIVING the fee for Spirit of Tasmania passengers to bring their car across Bass Strait would increase tourism numbers, but travellers have questioned the two ships' capabilities for extra demand.

Tourism Industry Council  chief executive Luke Martin suggested scrapping the $79 car fee as the fastest way to achieve the state government's promise to cut average fares by 20 per cent.

West Australian retirees Dave and Caron Sinclair, who returned home yesterday after a three-month stay in the state, said it cost them about $1100 to get their motorhome and car across with a pension discount.

``We saved up for it and we were expecting it to be, but any more I think would put it out of the market,'' Mrs Sinclair said.

``Waiving the fee would no doubt bring more people over, but then you have the problem of not having the facilities for it.

``Maybe another freight boat may fix that.''

She said it was difficult to set a vehicle spot on the Spirit unless people book well in advance.''

Infrastructure Minister Rene Hidding said he anticipated the annual average fare would reduce by up to 20 per cent in future and that all initiatives would be canvassed in a new business case to be prepared by TT-Line.

Mr Hidding said the business case would look at ways of enticing more people to use the ferry service through better facilities and more capacity.

``The Liberal government is committed to growing visitor numbers to Tasmania to 1.5 million by 2020, which represents an additional 8000 jobs,'' Mr Hidding said.

``To help achieve that target we have asked TT-Line to prepare a business case that will see passenger facilities on both Spirit of Tasmania vessels increased and upgraded.''

Devonport Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Sylvia Sayers said the freight issue was a concern but was confident it had been addressed by the state government's plan to refurbish both ships.

She said the chamber was in favour of any initiative that made travel aboard the Spirit more attractive.

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