Flying the flag for Tasmania's ferry industry

Spirit of Tasmania CEO Bernard Dwyer talks with Justin Merrigan about hosting the 45th Annual Interferry conference in Hobart in October 2020

Flying the flag for Tasmania's ferry industry
Spirit of Tasmania’s twin red-hulled vessels sail between Melbourne on Australia’s mainland and Devonport in Tasmania

From Unesco World Heritage-listed mountain areas to beach-lined coastlines and towns with farm-gate producers, wineries and restaurants – Tasmania is widely known for its breathtaking scenery, culture and, thanks to being in the path of the Roaring Forties westerly winds, having the cleanest air in the world.

Tasmania is a wonderful travelling destination and the sailing across Bass Strait between Melbourne and Devonport on the north coast of Australia’s island state by Spirit of Tasmania is unquestionably one of the world’s must-do travel experiences. Owned and operated by the Tasmanian government’s TT-Line, Spirit of Tasmania operates overnight crossings from both ports with the eye-catching red-hulled sister ships Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II. During periods of high demand, day sailings are also on offer with a crossing time of nine hours.

This year, delegates of the annual Interferry conference will have the opportunity to experience Tasmania for themselves, with host Spirit of Tasmania working hard to plan an unforgettable event. As CEO Bernard Dwyer explains, the company has a long association and connection with Interferry. “Our chairman, Michael Grainger, is a former chairman and board member, and last year I was honoured to have been appointed president of Interferry 2020.

“We’re immensely proud to be bringing the 45th Annual Interferry Conference to Hobart,” he adds. “This will be only the third time that the conference has been held in Australia with the first time being in Sydney in 1995, followed by the Gold Coast in 2002.”

The conference will bring the leaders of the international ferry industry to Tasmania. “The Tasmanian ferry industry is itself highly regarded globally for its innovation and quality, so we are looking forward to the opportunity to expose it firsthand to our industry partners from around the world,” says Dwyer.

Spirit of Tasmania’s ships are also held in high regard by passengers. Built in Turku, Finland in 1998 as Superfast III and Superfast IV, they were purchased by TT-Line in 2002. In 2015 the two vessels underwent a major refurbishment, with their interiors being completely refitted and redesigned. In the past Australian financial year, the business transported almost 450,000 passengers across Bass Strait and that is a significant contribution to the island’s economy. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that passengers travelling by sea to Tasmania usually stay longer, disperse more widely across the state and spend more compared with those travelling by air.

The Interferry conference will deliver an incredible boost to the international profile and credibility of local ferry builders, suppliers and operators not only in Tasmania, but also from around Australia.

“Interferry is the only global shipping association representing the ferry industry and with the profile and the interests of the delegates, this is sure to have multiple benefits for the state,” comments Dwyer. “It is also an opportunity to showcase Tasmania’s marine industry sector and members of the Tasmanian Maritime Network. Securing the conference is not only a win for Tasmania’s maritime industry, but also for the state’s reputation as a further demonstration that it can host international conferences of this calibre.

Dwyer adds that Spirit of Tasmania worked closely with Business Events Tasmania and the Tasmanian government’s Department of State Growth to bring the conference to Tasmania.

“We are working hard to plan an unforgettable conference that will be a truly unique and Tasmanian experience,” he says. “We are encouraging delegates to make the most of their time in Tasmania to explore and experience as many parts of the State as possible. And of course, I would encourage everyone to join us in Hobart for the 45th Annual Interferry Conference on 24-28 October 2020.”

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Justin Merrigan
By Justin Merrigan
08 April 2020

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