The Provincial Government is today criticizing another
Marine Atlantic ferry rate increase.
The Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Transportation
and Works, says the latest price hike is very troubling.
"In June, Marine Atlantic raised fares by two per
cent. We have now learned that instead of going up by two per cent,
rates will in fact increase by 3.1 per cent effective October 1, 2007.
There is also the possibility that rates will increase yet again in
January 2008," said Minister Hickey. "This comes after the federal
government announced in early 2007 that Marine Atlantic fares would
increase by the Consumer Price Index, plus fuel surcharge."
"The federal government�s strategy seems to be to
increase rates a bit at a time, in the hope that the cumulative impacts
go unnoticed. Well, it isn�t going unnoticed by this government," said
Minister Hickey. "A continuing series of rate increases will impact the
cost of goods shipped to and from the province as well as the tourism
industry and trucking sector. I will again write the federal minister
expressing our concern, although it will likely fall on deaf ears like
The Honourable Tom Hedderson, Minister of Tourism,
Culture and Recreation, said the increases detract from the province�s
substantial efforts to promote travel to this province.
"It is ironic that Marine Atlantic continues to
increase its ferry rates just when the Newfoundland and Labrador tourism
marketing campaign is receiving accolades and awards from across the
country," Minister Hedderson said.
Minister Hedderson noted that on September 7, the
province�s tourism campaign was honoured by the Atlantic advertising
industry with an Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise (ICE) Award for
Marketer of the Year. The campaign has also been named one of three
finalists for the Tourism Industry Association of Canada�s (TIAC)
Marketing Campaign of the Year award.
"The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is making
the right investments and coming up with the creative concepts to
promote this province as a travel destination," Minister Hedderson said.
"However, those efforts are constantly threatened by decisions made by
transportation carriers such as Air Canada and Marine Atlantic. These
decisions create obstacles which affect easy, affordable access to much
of this province and that is a constant challenge to our ability to grow
the tourism industry."
News of the latest Marine Atlantic rate increase is
particularly disappointing during a time of renewed optimism for the
province's long-term prosperity, said the Honourable Kevin O'Brien,
Minister of Business.
"It is disheartening to once again see such a
significant increase in the cost for users of this vital transportation
link, just as this province is starting to really and truly set its own
course for economic prosperity," said Minister O'Brien. "Predictability
and stability in the cost of transportation is important to business.
This action is certainly doing little to establish that kind of cost
environment. As we continue to show the world Newfoundland and Labrador
is an attractive place for business to invest, we are truly disappointed
with the message this latest Marine Atlantic rate increase is sending to
the business community."