Business concerns about ferry services have been raised with the three companies tendering for the new contract for ferry services to Kangaroo Island, starting in 2024.
The Kangaroo Island Business and Brand Alliance (KIBBA) on behalf of its 203 Brand Partners and Business Members has participated in consultation with the companies and has now written to them jointly with the two other industry associations on Kangaroo Island – the KI Tourism Alliance and Agriculture KI.
“Reliable and affordable access to Kangaroo Island has always been one of the primary concerns for our members, so on behalf of the 600+ members of the three associations we intend to remain vigilant as those companies prepare their tender for the new contract,” KIBBA chairman Brett Miller said.
It is understood the three companies – Sealink, Searoad Ferries and Kinetic-Oceanex – will submit their tenders by the end of September.
The letter has also been copied to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Corey Wingard, following on from the letter written by KIBBA in February this year raising concerns about the safety and maintenance of berthing infrastructure.
“Those 600 businesses represent probably several thousand residents so we appreciate the opportunity to be consulted and to put the views of our community,” Mr Miller said.
Included in the letter – co-signed by the three associations – was the following summary of issues:
- That a minimum schedule of services will be maintained regardless of tourism demand or time of year, and that businesses may rely on that minimum schedule. This is particularly important as the Island focuses on increasing its visitor numbers in the winter months. The minimum schedule is also essential for our agricultural exports and the inputs required by all local businesses.
- That fares for passengers and freight are commensurate with other ferry services in Australia and not inflated due to monopoly of service.
- That discounts are considered for local community use and for and business users (including freight), separate to tourism.
- That commissions charged to tourism operators (such as accommodation houses) will reflect market rates and will be developed with reference to tourism operators.
- That the ferry operator be required to assist in maintaining supplies to the Island in the event of an emergency or crisis and to facilitate the movement of essential passengers and equipment even when tourist demand is low, such as during any COVID-19 shutdowns.
- That essential ferry berthing infrastructure will be safely maintained.