Tourism, Culture and Recreation
October 16, 2009

Support for Marine Atlantic Fleet Renewal Plan
Discussed During Meeting with Federal Transport Minister

The need to begin implementation of a fleet renewal strategy for Marine Atlantic was the key topic of discussion today as the Honourable Clyde Jackman, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, met with the Honourable Rob Merrifield, Federal Minister of State (Transport), on issues around the Gulf ferry service from Nova Scotia to the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"As a Provincial Government, our position is that the Federal Government must commit to a long-term vessel renewal plan for the Marine Atlantic fleet; eliminate the fuel surcharge imposed on users, and address ongoing issues with the reliability, affordability and quality of the service," said Minister Jackman. "The meeting with Minister Merrifield today was quite positive, and we acknowledge his efforts to meet with us � and with Marine Atlantic stakeholders earlier today � to hear, first-hand, our individual and collective concerns. It is imperative now that those concerns are addressed, and we will be looking to the Federal Government to take action, both in the short and long-term, around this vital transportation link that impacts not only the tourism industry in this province, but all aspects of our economy."

During the ministers� meeting, Minister Merrifield committed to pursuing a long-term strategy to address some Marine Atlantic issues � including capacity and reliability of the fleet � which Minister Jackman noted are crucial from both a resident and non-resident perspective.

"As of the end of September, Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting a 5.2 per cent increase in non-resident traffic on the Marine Atlantic ferry service to Port aux Basques and Argentia," Minister Jackman said. "Despite the downturn in the global economy, interest in Newfoundland and Labrador as a tourism destination is clearly on the rise, as evidenced by the 1.5 per cent increase in non-resident visitation this year over the same period last year, and a 24 per cent increase in inquiries through our tourism website. But we cannot continue to grow this industry without a reliable, affordable Gulf ferry service � and Minister Merrifield appeared to understand and appreciate that point."

Today�s meeting follows a September 9 meeting in Toronto of federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for tourism, where Minister Jackman raised the issue of the Marine Atlantic service with both the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and Diane Ablonsczky, Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism), noting Newfoundland and Labrador�s efforts to assist Canada in realizing its national tourism revenue target ($100 billion by 2015) can only be realized through increased federal support for both air and ferry access to the province.

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Media contact:

Heather May
Director of Communications
Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
709-729-0928, 697-5061

2009 10 16                                                     2:35 p.m.

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