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By Katrina Yu
August 10, 2007 04:27pm
Article from: AAP
SYDNEY'S inadequate ferry service poses a risk to the city's tourism industry and should be privatised, an industry group said today.
Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) Australia said today Sydney Ferries needed a "shake up'' and backed a proposal to privatise the service.
"The current operator is doing nothing to market itself to visitors and as a result passenger numbers are going backwards,'' TTF national transport manager Liam McKay said.
The ferry service takes visitors to major Sydney tourist attractions such as Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, Darling Harbour and Manly Beach.
Mr McKay said contracting out the operation of the service was necessary to "shake up Sydney Ferries and give it a stronger customer focus''.
A NSW special commission of inquiry (SCOI) is underway to determine a funding outcome for the service with a report due on August 31.
Transport Minister John Watkins has refused to prejudge the outcome of the inquiry but has not ruled out private sale of the service.
Macquarie Bank chairman David Clarke suggested a possible interest in Sydney Ferries late last month, but the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) warned privatisation would result in the doubling of fares in order to deliver financial return for any private operator.
Mr Watkins said whatever the final recommendations from the inquiry were, the Government would allow a "reasonable period of time for people to respond''.
The service costs the Government $60 million a year and its ageing fleet is plagued by staffing and technical problems.
Meanwhile, Mr Watkins said an overtime stand-off between Sydney Ferries and its unionised workers, which led to service cancellations for two days earlier this week, had been resolved.
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