An official naming ceremony has been held on Hobart's waterfront for RACT's new Gordon River Cruises vessel Spirit of the Wild.
Spirit of the Wild was officially named by RACT patron Her Excellency Professor The Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania.
RACT Group Chief Executive Harvey Lennon said the official naming ceremony was a significant day for the organisation.
"It is a very real demonstration of our commitment to growing regional tourism in Tasmania, particularly on the west coast, where the vessel will cruise the iconic Gordon River," he said.
Mr Lennon said the name
Spirit of the Wild was chosen to reflect the west coast's rugged, wild and pristine environment. The name also reflects the journey the new vessel will take – transporting our guests deep into the wilderness and west coast history.
Built in Hobart by Richardson Devine Marine, the vessel was designed and built with the Gordon River specifically in mind. The RACT also engaged the services of Tasmanian companies Simon Currant and Associates and Hydrowood as well as local food consultant David Quon, along with interstate designers Incat Crowther and Spear Green Design, in the creation of the vessel and the experience.
"Spirit of the Wild will virtually disappear while on the Gordon River thanks to tannin-like exterior finishes that blend into the surroundings, along with the electric motors that will provide a silent cruising experience while in the world heritage area," Mr Lennon said.
"Smaller engines will reduce emissions, and solar panels will power some of the navigation electronics."
Mr Lennon said the RACT understood that
Spirit of the Wild was the first commercial passenger vessel of its size in the southern hemisphere to be fitted with a drive system that featured both diesel engines and electric motors.
"When the vessel enters the Gordon River we will switch the diesel propulsion engines off, leaving only the electric drive to propel the vessel forward," he said.
"This means passengers will enjoy a cruising experience like nothing that has ever been available in Tasmania's World Heritage Area before."
Mr Lennon said he was pleased that the vessel would come online during a strong period of growth for the Tasmanian tourism sector.
"The west coast too is enjoying something of a resurgence," he said.
"We believe the introduction of our new vessel will deliver a boost for the visitor economy of the region.
"More broadly, the RACT has enormous faith in the Tasmanian visitor economy.
"Not only is this demonstrated in our investment in this vessel, but also our recent investments in the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery and Cradle Mountain Hotel, and the ongoing sensitive redevelopment at Freycinet Lodge located within Freycinet National Park."
The vessel will now undergo final preparations for its journey from Hobart to Strahan, where it is expected to make its first sailing in early June.
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