June 27th 2012
Sealink’s secret plan for Island tours
In the depths of the worst tourist season in decades and with Magnetic Island charter, nature and snorkelling tour operators holding on for dear life, it appears a big new operator, Sealink, who run the passenger ferry service to Magnetic Island, are soon to enter the game.
It is thought that Sealink are planning a round-Magnetic tour, three days per week which will include snorkelling trips with a stop-over at locations such as Radical and Huntingfield Bays with pick up and drop offs back to Nelly Bay. It is also thought that initially they are planning to use the Pacific Cat ferry for the tours which they can direct passengers to straight from their ferry ticketing offices at the Townsville Breakwater terminal.
Providence Sailing proprietor, Grant Lewis, who met with Sealink's General Manager, Paul Victory today, told Magnetic Times,” We are pretty gutted. There’s only two of us (nature based snorkel tours) left on the Island. Why take over what the little boats are doing. It’s hard enough as it is. To survive I run two weeks on and then work two weeks with the Coral Princess just to keep going.
“I’m disappointed that Sealink are not going to be market leaders but market followers. They could have started a (Great Barrier) Reef or Palm Island tour but, instead, they are riding on the horse’s back - the little operators. It’s nothing to be proud of.”
Magnetic Times understand that Sealink are planning a TV campaign to promote their tours.
For the moment however, Sealink are remaining tight-lipped about their plans. Marketing Manager, Nadia Jones, said, “We have a few things in the works for SeaLink Queensland in the pipeline for the new financial year that we will release in due time. I don’t have any concrete facts about any of the work to give you at this time, however I will let you know once there’s something to tell.”
“Everything we spend is on the Island,” said Grant who is concerned that the flow on expenditure on Magnetic Island from businesses such as his won't happen with Sealink's operation.
The other operator believed to be most affected is Aquascene Charters run by Adam and Stephanie Hinks of Horseshoe Bay. They were unavailable for comment.
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