Free Daintree nod
TOURISM operators and locals from the Daintree River are hoping the Cairns Regional Council will cut the ferry fees permanently.
Cairns Regional Council agreed last week to waive the ferry fees for two weeks over the Easter holidays to encourage more visitors to visit the region.
By cutting the costs locals hope more tourists and locals will visit the Daintree, the world’s oldest rainforest, and stimulate the regional economy.
Tourism Daintree Coast president Neil Hewitt supports the decision and has noticed an increase of visitors in the last week.
“This is an excellent decision by Cairns Regional Council,” he said.
“Studies by CSIRO showed that more than 30 per cent of our potential customers turn away when they see the cost of the short ferry ride across the river.
“This is the only community in the region that has a financial impediment in the form of a ferry tax and it is a cost burden that has affected our success as an ecotourism destination.”
Cape Tribulation business owner Lawrence Mason has also seen a significant increase in visitors to the area since the fees were cut.
“Our café is running several hundred dollars more a day,” he said.
“There are definitely more cars on the road and we would definitely like the ferry fee to be cut permanently.” the Daintree
Mr Mason understands it may be beyond the Cairns Regional Council’s resources to fund the ferry but suggested that the next logical step would be to allow residents from Cairns to travel across the river for free.
According to Mr Hewitt, the community has been regulated into an ecotourism economy, and the global financial downturn has been especially difficult for the residents in the Daintree.
“The accumulated knowledge of the resident community enhances rainforest experiences and explained why this global treasure remains today and how it is protected through community,” he said. “The locals are the experts, they welcome you and your support.”
See for free: the trial of a free ferry service is working for