Tasmania's T21 Visitor Economy Strategy recognises the importance of ensuring adequate air and sea access to Tasmania.
The Tasmanian Government's Access 2020 plan aims to increase domestic air and sea capacity and frequency, improve seasonal demand, maximise low fare availability and increase international visitation, as well as introduce a small number of direct international flights. Tourism Tasmania provides research services and logistical support to the Director Access and Aviation Development.
In this, the first year of the strategy's operation, capacity to Tasmania increased by 173,658 new seats on the key routes between Hobart and Launceston and Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. This is above the annual target of 140,000 required to meet our 2020 goals. The increase arose from the addition of permanent new services and making more ad-hoc seats available for a longer peak season and for key events.
Over the previous year, Qantas increased frequency from 35 to 46 flights a week from Hobart to Melbourne and Sydney with an additional aircraft based overnight in Tasmania generating 25 new pilot and crew jobs for the state. Qantas also added a fifth daily, weekday rotation between Hobart and Melbourne as well as 69 extra flights over the December-January period, including a double daily service between Sydney and Hobart.
Jetstar added a new four times a week service between Hobart and Avalon (Geelong), adding 74,880 new seats a year between Hobart and regional Victoria.
Improving international access is another objective of the Access 2020 plan. The Federal Government grant deed to extend Hobart's runway to 2750 metres now enables the Tasmanian Government and Hobart Airport to pursue direct air access with international airlines based in key visitor markets.
Code share agreements improve connectivity to Tasmania from international ports, allowing passengers to book one ticket and transfer luggage directly to their Tasmanian airport destination. During the year, Qantas put in place a codeshare agreement with China Eastern for all flights connecting Hobart, Launceston and Devonport to Shanghai. Virgin also agreed to a new code share with Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, for all connecting flights from Hobart and Launceston to Singapore.
There has also been significant investment in Tasmania's access points. Hobart Airport embarked on a $100 million investment program, while Launceston Airport completed a $3.5 million passenger terminal redevelopment and an $11 million runway overlay. Both terminal redevelopments improve the visitor experience, retail offering, and dining options and positively contribute to the arrival experience for all air visitors to Tasmania.
In September 2015, TT-Line completed an extensive $31.5 million refurbishment of both Spirit of Tasmania ships, upgrading all passenger facilities on both vessels. TT-Line ran a total of 33 additional day sailings over the peak season with visitors arriving on Spirit of Tasmania growing by 17 per cent to 138,400 (March 2016).
The Access 2020 plan also addresses cruise ships. In the 2015-16 summer, there were 59 port calls in Tasmania, delivering 163,328 passengers and crew, and adding an estimated $32 million to the economy. Significant growth in cruise ship visits is forecast for the next two seasons, with 96 port calls booked for 2016-17 and 129 calls currently booked for 2017-18.