Renee Cluff

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Ports North bows to pressure from tourism operators over Cairns marina fees

 Ports North has agreed to an independent review of the fees it charges reef operators to use the Cairns Marlin Marina.

The move follows concerns raised by tourism operators that the cost of berthing in Cairns is the highest on Australia’s east coast.

Ports North Chairman Russell Beer said the organisation's been in negotiations with a group of marine operators for the past 12 months.

They include six operators, among the largest in the region, who've refused to sign new leases after their cheaper, long-term contracts recently expired.

“If these operators want an independent assessment of our user-pays fees then we will offer that.

“Our position has always been that users of the marina only pay for the cost of using the asset – nothing more,” Mr Beer said.

“That includes bringing this group of operators, who currently pay 12 per cent less than everyone else, up to the same level as everyone else.”

Mr Beer said that as a Government-owned Corporation, Ports North is required by law to manage assets in the best interests of Queensland tax-payers.

“Our fees make up less than three per cent of a reef operator’s published ticket price, which typically
amounts to between $2 and $4 per passenger, depending on the size of the vessel and the number
of passengers,” Mr Beer said.

“That is three per cent of ticket prices that operators sell from between $79 to $220 per person.

He also rejected the comparison of the cost of Cairns berthing with other east coast marinas.

“Our fees differ to other marinas, just as the Hilton Hotel in Cairns doesn't charge the same rate as the Tolga backpackers or the Park Hyatt in Sydney," he said.

“Our Marina facilities in Cairns are significantly better than the marinas that operators are
comparing us to."

The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) has been contacted for comment.