Spirit of Tasmania brings $21 million tourism boost to Geelong region in first year

Spirit of Tasmania brings $21 million tourism boost to Geelong region in first year

23 October 2023

On the first anniversary of Spirit of Tasmania’s arrival at GeelongPort, initial economic estimates show that the service has brought a $21 million tourism boost to the Greater Geelong and Bellarine region.

Spirit of Tasmania’s move has also brought 750 direct and indirect jobs to the region, across both tourism and freight.

GeelongPort Chief Executive Officer, Brett Winter, said data highlighted visitor expenditure was up $21 million, exceeding initial projections.

“The uplift in visitor spend since Spirit of Tasmania’s move to Geelong is on track to exceed the initial projections of $57.3 million by 2030,” he said.

Spirit of Tasmania's Acting CEO, John McGrath, said the move to Geelong has been a great success for the Company with a record number of passengers, 450,012, sailing during the 2022-23 Financial Year.

"During the Financial Year, we transported more than 213,766 passenger vehicles and 106,578 TEUs (freight),” he said.

Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine Executive Director, Tracy Carter, said the collaboration with Spirit of Tasmania has been incredibly positive for the local visitor economy.

“Mobility data shows that visitors who arrive via Spirit of Tasmania tend to stay longer in our region, venture further and spend more generously compared to the average.”

“Over a 12-month period, overnight visitors spent approximately $2.3 million, while day trip passengers injected $18.7 million,” she said.

Since moving to Geelong one year ago, Spirit of Tasmania has operated 902 sailings between Geelong and Devonport.

Member for Lara, Ella George, welcomed the boost to Geelong’s economy.

“Spirit of Tasmania’s move to Geelong has delivered outstanding results for the region, supporting more than 750 jobs and contributing millions to the local visitor economy in just one year,” she said.

“GeelongPort’s development of Spirit of Tasmania Quay is a great example of a local business rejuvenating a blank canvas in the north of Geelong into a world-class tourism precinct.”

Through the construction of Spirit of Tasmania Quay, GeelongPort has set a new standard in terminal ferry facilities designed to make the customer experience seamless with a comfortable passenger lounge with a café and a children's play area.

Mr McGrath said the move of the Victorian port from Melbourne to Geelong has created new opportunities for Spirit of Tasmania allowing the Company to establish new relationships with freight clients, tourism providers and strengthen key markets in Victoria's western region.

"The new Terminal at Geelong has significantly improved the Company's ability to deliver an elevated level of service to our passengers across all areas of our business,” Mr McGrath said. “Passenger feedback provided to the Company reflects this positive change."

"We're even more excited about the future with two new larger vessels arriving in 2024 to replace our current fleet. The increased number of passengers travelling in both directions presents a huge opportunity for the tourism industry here in Victoria and in Tasmania."

Mr Winter said the arrival of Spirit of Tasmania has enabled GeelongPort to diversify its operations to include tourism and freight services.

“The arrival of Spirit of Tasmania has strengthened regional Victoria’s link to Tasmania and we expect it will open up even more trade and investment opportunities into the future,” he said.

“It’s been a strategic and smart move by Spirit of Tasmania and we see it as a model for other companies looking to explore opportunities in regional centres.”


Photo credits: All photos by Pam Hutchinson.

1st Photo: Member for Lara Ella George MP, Spirit of Tasmania Acting CEO John McGrath, Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine Executive Director Tracey Carter and GeelongPort CEO Brett Winter.

2nd Photo: Member for Corangamite Libby Coker MP, GeelongPort CEO Brett Winter, Spirit of Tasmania Acting CEO John McGrath, Member for Lara Ella George MP, State Member for Geelong Christine Couzens MP, Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine Executive Director Tracey Carter and Wadawurrung Traditional Owner Corrina Eccles.