Calls renewed for federal government to extend Spirit of Tasmania vehicle subsidy

The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania has again spruiked a proposal to cover costs of vehicle travel to and from Tasmania.

Although there is still no firm date for when Tasmania's borders will reopen, the TICT wants the state to be even more accessible to tourists when they do.

The council has called on the federal government to extend the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme, which subsidises the cost of taking vehicles on the Spirit of Tasmania.

Under the proposal, it would be effectively free to transport a passenger vehicle each way across the Strait, and passengers would pay for their passage and any added extras the Spirit of Tasmania provides.

Since it was proposed in May, the idea has gained traction on both sides of politics at a state and federal level and been enthusiastically received by the general public.

Council CEO Luke Martin said it is a "no-brainer" and that he was hopeful an announcement would be made soon about a date for Tasmania's borders to reopen.

"That would enable the Spirit of Tasmania to go to the market and restart taking bookings with a price structure to suit," Mr Martin said.

He also said as the federal government has not been paying the BSPVES in recent months amid the pandemic, there should be funds available to cover the cost of it extending it temporarily.

"The reality is the government has the money," Mr Martin said.

However, he agreed that while the commonwealth had not paying the BSPVES recently, it had been spending significantly.

In 2018-19, the travel of about 205,735 vehicles was subsidised and $51.3 million was spent.

Federal Liberal member for Braddon Gavin Pearce said the government recognises the tourism sector will require support.

"I am confident that the coordinated approach between the Tasmanian federal Liberal team and our state Liberal counterparts... will return our state to its position as one of the nation's economic leaders."

This story Spirit sailing subsidy proposal gathering pace first appeared on The Advocate.