Spirit passenger numbers rise before fares due to fall

SPIRIT of Tasmania operators have trumpeted an 8 per cent increase in passengers in the past 12 months as the company considers how to respond to the state government's election promise to slash fares.

More than 357,374 people will have travelled on the ferries during 2013-14, up from 330,698.

The increase reverses a drop off in popularity in 2012-13, restoring passenger numbers to 2011-12 levels.  

Chief executive Charles Griplas also said advance bookings for sailings in the next financial year were up 11 per cent compared with the same time last year. 

The new Liberal government wants the state-owned ferry operator to cut the average fare by up to 20 per cent in a bid to increase tourists travelling to the state, but is yet to issue a formal directive.

TT-Line is preparing a business case outlining its plans to meet the objective. 

Mr Griplas said yesterday charges for ocean recliners and twin cabins were 15 and 13 per cent lower than in 2009 in real terms. 

Excluding the carbon surcharge and the new Port of Melbourne Corporation licence fee, the standard car fares are 1 per cent lower in real terms compared with 2009. 

The outgoing chief executive said standard Spirit of Tasmania fares fluctuated depending on availability and demand.

``The company is currently offering a $299 special for a twin cabin for two people and a car that represents a saving of $168,'' he said.

The  opposition claimed at the weekend that fares had risen under the Liberal government.

Yesterday, Labor tourism spokesman Scott Bacon welcomed the rise in passenger numbers. 

The Spirit of Tasmania ferries have reversed a drop in passenger numbers.

The Spirit of Tasmania ferries have reversed a drop in passenger numbers.


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