TOWNSVILLE-based ferry c o mpany Sunferries has been acquired by national tourism and transport operator SeaLink Travel Group, based in Adelaide.
But the takeover won’t affect Sunferries’ 70 Townsville-based employees, with all to keep their jobs.
SeaLink also plans to acquire a new vessel, and although they would not reintroduce reef tours out of Townsville, the company would work with other marine tourism operators to help establish such a service.
Sunferries operates 19 return services per day between Townsville and Magnetic Island, as well as four services per week to Palm Island.
SeaLink will still run both services under the Sunferries name.
The deal, announced yesterday, involves SeaLink acquiring 100 per cent of the shares in Sunferries Group Pty Ltd, including its ferry operations and Sunferries Travel, with part of the consideration involving Sunferries owner and managing director Terry Dodd taking a 9 per cent shareholding in SeaLink. The Sydney Fast Ferries business, also owned by Mr Dodd, will not be acquired by SeaLink.
As part of the arrangement, Mr Dodd will join the SeaLink board.
SeaLink CEO and managing director Jeff Ellison said it would be ‘‘ business as usual’’ for Sunferries with all of the 70 existing Townsville-based staff being retained although g e ner a l manager Darin McDonald left the company about three weeks ago. Mr Dodd would continue to act as general manager until a new appointment was made.
The SeaLink Travel Group, established in 1989, operates ferries at Adelaide, Auckland and now Townsville, travel agencies in Australian capital cities and tourism and coach charter operations.
The acquisition will add about $ 12.5 million to SeaLink’s total annual revenue, lifting it to almost $ 80 million and grow its annual passenger numbers by about 800,000 to almost 1.8 million a year.
Mr Dodd said the acquisition was in the best interest of Sunferries and would provide the strength needed to f urther develop tourism opportunities in the Townsville area.
‘‘ We think there are tremendous opportunities to further grow tourism in the Townsville region,’’ he said.
Mr Ellison said SeaLink wanted to showcase Australasia to the world and grow the Sunferries business and promoting Magnetic Island.
CRUISIN’: Sunferries has been sold to national operator SeaLink