TOURISM operators north of the Daintree River have every right to question the obscene amount charged for tourists, or even Cairns residents for that matter, to cross the ferry into their beautiful part of the world.
The Daintree ferry is the only one of its kind in Australia which charges people to get across a river because for whatever reason there is no bridge.
The fact that Cairns Regional Council makes a tidy profit out of it is insulting to the many businesses in the Daintree on the bones of their bum because of falling tourist numbers.
The Douglas region is attracting many more budget-conscious travellers these days who question spending $22 to visit the Daintree when they can go to the Tablelands for free or take a river cruise instead.
Even a Supreme Court judge has expressed surprise at the charges inflicted on people using the ferry.
While council may argue the ferry is a legitimate source of revenue, that same argument could be applied to other subsidised services such as the lagoon pool in Cairns.
If the council can absorb maintenance and running costs to the tune of more than $1 million per year to service tourists lounging around a pool, why then can’t they do the same for a ferry service which by virtue of the cost is having a severe economic impact on the businesses on the other side of the river.
Council should certainly be applauded for trying to promote the region with the Daintree Gateway project, but there also needs to be serious consideration as to the commercial impact of using the ferry service as a revenue raiser.
The success of the free ferry service over the Easter holidays proved many more people would visit the Daintree if there wasn’t such a high cost.
Local tourism authorities have put forward suggestions to make the ferry free, or at least cheaper, in the shoulder season to support tourism or expand the free card to all ratepayers in the council footprint, not just those in the Douglas region.
But their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Until these concerns are heard and addressed, the outlook for many tourism operators in the Daintree will remain bleak.