12/06/2007 - 22:00

Ferry master sees Rotto potential

12/06/2007 - 22:00

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It was a desire to play a key role in the reinvigoration of one of Western Australia’s iconic tourism assets that drove tourism and marine industry businessman, Scott Bailey, to buy ferry service Rottnest Express.

It was a desire to play a key role in the reinvigoration of one of Western Australia’s iconic tourism assets that drove tourism and marine industry businessman, Scott Bailey, to buy ferry service Rottnest Express.

After almost a year on the market, the handover to the new owners this week signals a new chapter for the company, which acquired the Rottnest ferry operations of Boat Torque in 2002 after the break-up of the Kitcher group of companies.

Mr Bailey, the managing director of specialist fuel distributor Bailey’s Marine Fuels, said the business was vital to the development of Rottnest Island as a world-class tourism destination, and he intended to grow the service to a world’s best-practice model.

The service currently carries 250,000 passengers each year on its three vessels. The new owners will look at expanding the fleet, and will be undertaking a refit of existing ferries.

Mr Bailey said he wanted the business to be highly customer focused, catering to the needs of a variety of domestic and international market segments.

“We need to quantify the market and grow the business accordingly,” he told WA Business News.

“We need to find out who goes there, why they go over there, and who doesn’t go there.”

Mr Bailey said that, with developments such as Broadwater Hotels and Resorts’ $50 million hotel development at Mt Herschel, and the proposed multi-million dollar upgrade of the Quokka Arms Hotel on the horizon, the opportunity existed to be part of the regeneration of the island.

“The opportunity is there for us as a Western Australian company to be able to make the island great,’ he said.

“Rottnest is ripe for change, it just needs a spark.”

Mr Bailey said he would consider establishing a service exclusively for the use of Broadwater Hotel’s clients upon its completion, and hinted at the possibility of putting on more routes in addition to the Rottnest service.

“What we try and do with all of our businesses is over-exceed customer expectations and keep on raising that bar all the time,” he said.

Rottnest Island currently attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year.

Tourism WA have identified the island as a key focus of product and infrastructure development, with accommodation listed as a major gap by consumers.

The government committed $26 million to the upgrade of accommodation and infrastructure on the island, as a result of the Rottnest Island Taskforce recommendations handed down in 2004.

The final stages of the recommendations were implemented last month, which included a change of zoning on Mt Herschel to facilitate additional accommodation to be built on the site, and the relocation of The Dome café 10 metres back from its present site to new, purpose-built premises.

The Broadwater resort will be the first new accommodation built on the island in 20 years.

Other changes to the island include the selection of the Prendiville Group as preferred lessee of the Quokka Arms Hotel earlier this year.

It is understood Peter Prendiville and the Rottnest Island Authority are still negotiating over the terms of the new lease after almost five months of talks.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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