Travellers will soon be able to bring their vehicle on the Spirit of Tasmania for free, thanks to a scheme by the Federal Government to boost tourism in Tasmania.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack today announced the move, which will run for a period of four months and save motorists an average of $240.
"For travel between 1 March 2021 and 30 June 2021, Australians can take their car or motorbike to the Apple Isle at zero cost and discover everything this beautiful State has to offer – a win-win for both Tasmanians and visitors looking to discover more of what the island has to offer," Mr McCormack said.
The announcement expands the current Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme, which already subsidises passenger vehicle travel to and from Tasmania, and includes those travelling in a motorhome or with a caravan.
"COVID-19 has significantly affected tourism in Tasmania and the number of passenger vehicles travelling across Bass Strait which is why we are moving to increase the rebate already available under our Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme to the value of $6 million."
The announcement also covers those travelling to King Island and the Furneaux Group – a cluster of approximately 100 islands located between Victoria and Tasmania.
New-car sales surged in the final two months of 2020, as many Australians prepared to travel the country amid international travel restrictions.
Toyota Australia president and CEO Matthew Callachor told CarAdvice: "One of the factors that appears to be contributing to the recent upswing in new-car sales is that our international borders are closed".
"Forced to scrap international holidays, many Australians who would normally be travelling (overseas) are instead ready to explore their own backyard," Mr Callachor said.
"And many of them are buying new vehicles to ensure their family road trips are as comfortable and as safe as possible."
Despite the intentions for Aussies to explore their backyard, Assistant Minister for Industry Development Jonno Duniam said the pandemic had severely impacted tourism for the Apple Isle.
"The coronavirus pandemic hit Tasmania’s tourism industry in an unprecedented way, with Spirit of Tasmania Bookings dropping by up to 85 per cent," Mr Duniam said.
"This is a critical and targeted boost for tourism, as visitors who travel to Tasmania by sea are among the most valuable to the industry, they spend more, stay longer and travel further into our regional areas," he said.
"In fact, these travellers account for 12 per cent of all visitors to Tasmania yet they contribute a massive 20 per cent of all annual visitor spending."