The Bass Strait may become a free way to travel between Tasmania and the mainland if a tourism proposal is accepted.
Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin suggests the federal government should wholly subsidise the cost of passenger travel on the Spirit of Tasmania when the borders reopen.
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Through the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme the Commonwealth already subsidises the cost of passenger travel to the tune of $234 per car, which TT-Line passes on to passengers in the cost of Spirit of Tasmania tickets.
However, Mr Martin called for the subsidy to be raised to cover the entire ticket cost for a period of four to six months once interstate border restrictions are relaxed.
"We have zeroed in on how important the Spirits are going to be for reviving the tourism sector," he said.
"They're the life raft for our visitor economy."
He said visitors to Tasmania who arrive by the Spirits typically stay longer, spend more money and are more likely to visit the state's regional areas.
"Our figures show visitors who bring their own cars typically stay for an average of 12 nights as opposed to seven, and they inevitably get into the regional areas.
"It's a no-brainer. The most obvious thing we could do."
Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein was also in favour of the idea.
"We have submitted the TICT's concept as one of a suite of initiatives to the federal government for consideration within the context of its $1 billion tourism stimulus package," Mr Gutwein said.
"When it is safe our drive market will be critically important to Tasmania's tourism and hospitality industry as they spend twice as much on average than the general visitor."
Assistant regional tourism minister Jonathon Duniam said Tasmania's visitor economy is losing millions of dollars every month.
"The TICT's idea to target passenger travel on the Spirit of Tasmania is a great example of finding new ways encourage visitors back when the time is right," Mr Duniam said.
"We want to turn this around as fast as possible and rebuild Tasmania to its nation leading status when it comes to must-see destinations.
"This is going to take time, but we must think outside the box and do whatever it takes to revive our tourism industry."
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