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Transportation and Works
Tourism, Culture and Recreation
September 25, 2007

Provincial Government Takes Exception to Latest Marine Atlantic Rate Increase

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 previous appeals."

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."


Media contact:

David Salter
Director of Communications
Department of Transportation and Works
709-729-3015, 691-3577
Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
709-729-0928, 697-5061
John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Business
709-729-7628, 728-7762 

2007 09 25                                                         4:30 p.m.

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