The Hodgman Liberal Government will deliver two new, purpose-built Spirit of Tasmania vessels in 2021, two years ahead of schedule.
The next generation vessels will be more than 30 per cent larger than the current Spirits, with an even bigger increase in passenger and freight capacity.
Premier Will Hodgman said passenger capacity would increase by 43 per cent and freight capacity would increase by 39 per cent.
“These new ships will take things to the next level for our booming tourism sector and economy more broadly,” the Premier said.
“This is a game-changer for our State with every single sailing of the next generation Spirits able to bring an additional 500 visitors, 115 additional passenger vehicles and 85 additional freight trailers.
“Every region will benefit, with our primary producers able to get their produce to market and the arrival of more travellers keen to explore our State.
“It will help to achieve our plan to get more tourists here, staying longer and spending more while they are here. On average travellers on the Spirits stay nine nights longer than air travellers, spend $1,200 more and stay at over twice as many places while they are here.
“This is the single biggest tourism and infrastructure development for our State, and is the product of the extraordinary performance of TT Line and the success of this Government’s policy for the operation of the Spirits.”
The Minister for Infrastructure Rene Hidding said TT-Line had shortlisted a number of international shipyards and was expected to sign a contract in the first half of 2018.
“When we came to Government we took immediate action to invest in the Spirits and increase day sailings,” Minister Hidding said.
“As a result, our $31 million investment has transformed the ships, day sailings have more than doubled and average fare prices have dropped by about 15 per cent in real terms.
“Today, the vessels are near capacity and expert projections show that trend is set to continue.
“To capitalise on this success we are investing in the two new vessels, in what will likely be the largest single procurement process in Tasmania’s history.
“We can do this because of our hard work with the TT-Line which resulted in record profits, with the dividends invested into a special legislated fund, a fund that Labor opposed.
“This means that for the first time Tasmanians will have purpose-built vessels to suit the unique conditions of Bass Strait and the vessel’s 429 kilometre journey.
“While it is unfortunate that there are no Australian shipyards with the capacity to build the new Spirits, we will ensure Tasmanian products are used in the fit-out.”
This investment shows what can be achieved when a majority Liberal Government has a positive plan for Tasmania’s future.