It was my pleasure today to launch the new, year-round regular passenger ferry service to Maria Island National Park that will help the island fulfil its potential to be one of the state's best tourism attractions.
Encounter Maria Island, operated by the Navigators Group, will provide five sailings a day each way during the peak period and regular sailings during the off-peak period.
This is a great result that will help secure the island's growing reputation as a jewel in the crown for east coast tourism while creating jobs and supporting further growth in the local economy.
A new booking system will also streamline and simplify the process of purchasing ferry fares and national park passes, with return ferry fares to Maria Island National Park now including national park entry fees. Existing national parks pass holders will receive a discount on their ferry fare.
It's another significant marker in our plan to attract 1.5 million visitors to the state by 2020.
Approximately 23,000 visitors travelled to Maria Island in 2015-16 which is an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year, and I look forward to further tourism growth for the island with the new ferry service now up and running.