The Tasmanian Government’s Access 2020 Strategy 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, logistical and project support to the Tasmanian Government’s director of access and aviation development.
In this second year of the strategy’s operation, a total of 119,770 additional passengers travelled either to or from Tasmania compared to the corresponding period last year. Air capacity to Tasmania increased by 126,789 new seats on the key routes from Hobart and Launceston to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Although this is below the annual target of 140,000 needed to meet the 2020 goals, additional seats gained in the previous year means that the overall capacity gains of the plan remain on track. The increase in capacity over the year was a result of additional ad-hoc seats being made available over a longer peak season, the addition of more peak time services and upgrades to larger aircraft with greater seating capacity.
As well as improving domestic access to Tasmania, the strategy also aims to improve international access. A Federal Government grant deed to extend Hobart’s runway to 2,750 metres now enables the Tasmanian Government and Hobart Airport to pursue direct air access with international airlines based in key visitor markets. The Hobart Airport runway extension project remains on track for completion in March 2018.
Code share agreements improve connectivity to Tasmania from international ports by allowing passengers to book one ticket and transfer luggage directly to their Tasmanian airport destination. During the year, Tourism Tasmania partnered with Chinese east coast distributors to promote Tasmania over the Qantas-China Eastern codeshare network, established last year for travel in the shoulder and off season.
As an island, sea access to Tasmania is vitally important. 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. Over the past year, the number of sailings increased by 6 per cent from 767 to 814. This included an additional 45 day sailings following the refurbishment of the vessels. Passenger numbers also increased by 9 per cent from 384,501 to 418,831. This was the highest number of passengers carried by the company since 2004 and was achieved despite a number of adverse weather-related events.
The Access 2020 plan also includes cruise ship activity. In the 2016-17 summer period, cruise ships made 92 port calls, resulting in 236,794 passengers and crew days in Tasmanian ports. This is up from the previous year’s 58 port calls and 163,328 passengers and crew days. Direct onshore expenditure in 2016-17 is estimated at $25.14 million with an average daily onshore spend of $140 per passenger. This includes food and drink, entertainment, tours, transport and retail shopping.