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Boaties plan to rally support

01 May 2012

Docklands’ charter boat operators plan to stage a “regatta” in an attempt to improve their standing with decision makers.

The boaties say they don’t have an image problem with Melbourne’s public, which loves the opportunity for a river cruise.  But they say they are unappreciated and misunderstood by local and state government officials and elected representatives.

Charter boat operator Jeff Gordon says unless something is done to change the perception of the industry within government, the industry could find itself excluded from Victoria Harbour.

Mr Gordon says river traffic is the heart and soul of Docklands but the industry which carries 100,000 passengers a year continues to be marginalised.

In an attempt to redress this imbalance, about 15 charter boat operators plan to muster about 20 vessels possibly on Sunday, September 2 and throw open their gang planks for a free afternoon on the water.

Mr Gordon said passengers would be asked to make a gold-coin donation to charity in return for hours of fun cruising Victoria Harbour and the river.

“We want to be recognised as a respected and viable industry,” Mr Gordon said.

He said the industry in Docklands had been treated with contempt and it appeared that government officials had a very poor view of its contribution to the city.

Mr Gordon said the industry envisaged itself in a central location where passengers and tourists knew they could come for an experience on the water.  

He said it was hoped that finger piers could be established along Harbour Esplanade to accommodate a substantial fleet of charter boats.

Mr Gordon cited a recent example when he met an international cruise ship at Station Pier, brought passengers up the river with an interpretative commentary and dropped them at Central Pier where they were able to explore Melbourne via the City Circle Tram.

“What a great way to arrive in Melbourne,” he said. “This type of experience is priceless for Melbourne as a tourism destination, but it is simply unappreciated.”

“Our issue is that decision makers in this city don’t see it as a priority to have an industry like this.”

“We seem to be in their blind spot and there is every chance that we will be pushed out of Victoria Harbour.”

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