Ferry operators weigh options ahead of island comeback
BOATIES keen to hit the islands can now do so for day trips but commercial ferries will not get back on the water until the second stage of the government's COVID recovery road map.
Far Northern marine tourism operators will have to assess the commercial viability of operating under COVID-safe regulations limiting groups to a maximum of 20 people expected to rolled out from June 12.
Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators executive officer Gareth Phillips expected some operators would take the opportunity to get back on the water when Stage 2 of the road map kicks off but others would wait.
"The challenge is calculating the number of passengers that can be on a vessel," he said.
"At the moment the industry is going through those calculations and each individual company has to make their own commercial decision whether it's viable or not.
"Everyone is very excited about the easing of restrictions and everyone is working through the rules. And I think some will be running and some won't depending on their business model."
Under Stage 2 social distancing guidelines, Mr Phillips said indoors one person was permitted in a 4sq/m area with a maximum of 20 people in that area. But if you have your own vessel Green and Fitzroy Islands are open, he said.
However, all overnight stays including camping remain off limits for the Frankland Islands and the Family Island Group (Dunk Island.)
Cairns MP Michael Healy said his office was working in collaboration with Tourism Tropical North to help operators comply with regulations and kick off day trips.
"It's difficult to give one answer to a broad issue … (but) if there is any (confusion) contact TTNQ and we will be able to give them clarification," he said. Mr Healy said by the end of this week he expected there would be further easing of restrictions.
"(And) police appreciate some of these matters are complicated and are not going to be fining people who are doing the right thing," he said.
Green Island business and event officer Megan Bell said the island was yet to reopen to day trippers and the resort would remain closed to allow the completion of non- COVID-related jetty upgrades.
"When the restrictions do lift … we will certainly be looking at our operation and see how we can start up," she said.
Fitzroy Island Resort owner Doug Gamble said the resort remained closed while government clearances to open were being negotiated.
"We would love to open as soon as possible and see Cairns people visit but we just have to wait for clearances," he said.
Originally published as Ferry operators weigh options ahead of Cairns' island comeback