Liberal Candidate for Bass, Andrew Nikolic, welcomed today’s announcement by Jetstar of additional flights to Tasmania.
Mr Nikolic said: “This is a desperately needed shot in the arm for Tassie tourism and I congratulate QANTAS Group for their enhanced commitment of additional flights to Launceston.
“Tourism has been a key focus for me since preselection and the Tourism Roundtable that I chaired in March 2012, highlighted the need for a more sustainable commitment by airlines and better use of Launceston as a gateway for the state.
“I call on the State Government to ensure that the opportunity created through these additional flights is not wasted,” Mr Nikolic said.
Mr Nikolic said 2011 in Tasmania ended with a significant drop in tourism numbers and every effort must be made to ensure that the opportunity created by the Jetstar announcement is optimised.
“It beggars belief that the State Labor-Greens Government responded to a drop in tourism numbers by cutting the tourism marketing budget.
“Like Hospital in the Home and other ill-considered policy by the State Government, cutting the tourism marketing budget is simply false economy.
“I will continue to work hard in support of local tourism, by championing things like: wineand sports tourism; helping restore the health of the Tamar River; a secure Passenger Equalisation Scheme (and Freight equalisation Scheme) to boost visitation to Tasmania; and ensuring the mainland budget cuts to Customs doesn’t risk the Tasmanian apple industry and other agriculture businesses.
“Although Tasmania doesn’t have an international airport, it is affected by a range of measures in the Budget which combine to make Australia a less attractive tourism destination.
“The introduction of increased flights to Tasmania will help soften the blow of the government’s Carbon Tax on 1 July, which will kill off jobs in regional and rural communities, and mean also that the net beneficiary will be outbound tourism.
“I was disappointed that in recent months the Government had ‘picked Carbon Tax winners’ in other states but had failed Tasmania.
“Labor reduced the Great Barrier Reef Visitor levy to offset the carbon tax impact but ignored other marine tourism operators like the Spirit Of Tasmania who have announced they’ll pass on an extra $3.00 per passenger per journey (and $6.00 per passenger vehicle per journey). The Spirit’s announcement follows similar ones made by Qantas; saying their fares will have to increase by $3.50, while Virgin has confirmed that their fares will increase by $3.
“It may not on the face of it sound such a big deal – but when you tally up all the individual extra charges applied by adventure tourism operators, restaurants, transport businesses and so forth, it will make Australia a much more expensive destination – and those effects amplify here because of our further transport and freight costs,” Mr Nikolic said.