Struggling Daintree calls to make ferry free for Cairns
THE struggling Daintree business community has begged Cairns Regional Council to waive all ferry fees for Cairns residents for one month.
The Daintree ferry sold just 7763 tickets in January and February this year, a drop of almost 50 per cent on the previous year.
The decline in visitors has been noticed and remarked upon by business operators in Cape Tribulation and Cow Bay, who think council should give the embattled rainforest community a break. They believe the best way to introduce residents of the wider Cairns region to the Daintree is to temporarily suspend the ferry fee for all residents of the Cairns council area.
Council CEO Lyn Russell said the idea was being considered in current budget discussions, but would not be acted on in April.
“A policy change like this needs to be considered in the context of the overall budget,” Ms Russell said. “It needs to be seen from a strategic perspective. The idea will be put to the council as part of a broader consideration of fees and charges.”
However, after a horror couple of years, local businesses are hoping for quick action.
“Over the past two years we’ve seen a number of businesses close down, and a lot of people are reporting a 50 per cent reduction in business since last year,” Daintree Marketing Cooperative chair Michaela Flood said.
“There was no Christmas ’bounce’ this year, and it’s clear we need to do something to re-establish the Daintree as a weekend getaway for Cairns residents.
“We know many Cairns residents have never visited the Daintree, and some of them would be disinclined, given the price.
“The VFR market, visiting friends and relatives, is important in Cairns, and residents are
We need to re-establish the Daintree as a getaway for Cairns residents
— Michaela Flood
unlikely to recommend their friends visit the Daintree if they’ve never been themselves.”
Daintree businessman Lawrence Mason said he had hoped council would address the issue in this week’s meeting.
“We wanted council to trial this arrangement over April and, if it was successful, consider making it permanent,” Mr Lawrence said. “Locals don’t have to pay to go to Mission Beach or the Tablelands, but they have to pay to use the ferry. “We’re all one council area now. “It should be the same rule for everyone.” Before the shotgun marriage of the Douglas shire and Cairns city councils in 2008, Douglas shire residents could obtain an annual pass to use the council-run ferry, a policy which remained in place after amalgamation.