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Are cruise companies paying their way in Aussie ports?

November 13, 2013 Cruise, Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59I never thought I would be writing an article about whether cruise companies are paying their way in ports, but an article this week by Robin Bromby in The Australian made me sit up and take notice, and realise that in some cases, perhaps they may not be.

Mr Bromby goes on to say that while cruise liners are pumping millions into the Australian economy, some experts now question whether they are paying their way, with record numbers of cruise ships around Australia this summer, with the country’s ports under pressure to meet the growing demands to of shipowners.

image001Taking Sydney as an example, in 2012, the NSW government announced the mooring charge was going up from a per passenger rate of $18 a head, to $25 a passenger in 2014/15 and then $30 in 2015/16, with cruise ships paying for a minimum of 1,200 passengers, even if they are carrying fewer.

A spokesman for Sydney Ports told me today that the background to the previously even lower that the above fees in Sydney is that in 1992, with only 25 ships visiting a year, the NSW Government froze port fees, taking them down from $675 to $250 and also reduced navigation fees by 35%.

So, the above increases were the first in 25 years, described by the Sydney Ports spokesperson as the NSW Government having played its part in helping grow the industry and now needing money to provide additional infrastructure, adding that the cruise lines have to start picking up more of the tab for building bigger and better passenger terminals.

When the above increases were announced in 2012, Carnival Australia CEO, Ann Sherry told the Sydney Morning Herald,  the company was already considering ways to offset the increased fee, including redirecting ships to other ports for longer periods of time and making fewer visits to Sydney, but that has not happened, with in the 2013-14 cruise season, 302 cruise liners visiting Sydney, twelve times the 1992 figure and three times the 2009/10 number of 119 vessels.

The report in the Australian goes on to say that financing ports and infrastructure is an issue everywhere, with Ports Australia CEO, David Anderson saying his organisation advocates a policy that ports should provide cruise facilities on a commercial basis, specifically rejecting the notion that the cruise industry should be subsidised by Australia’s ports,

Mr Anderson also said that for years cruise charges for Sydney had lagged behind those of many Australian ports, because the NSW government wanted to give the cruise industry a financial incentive to increase its business, with as a result, Sydney Ports carrying losses for years to support cruise industry growth.  He added that now that the cruise industry is booming, it is time to end the taxpayer subsidy of the industry.

John Alwyn-Jones, Cruise Editor and Correspondent

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Pete Mac says:

    Port fees should be aligned to the AU tax on international airline departures..I.e $55

    That would be fair

  2. AgentGerko says:

    The state and federal governments are happy to pay out millions of dollars on sporting and cultural events without a hope of recouping actual running costs, because of the dollars they questionably bring into the country. They’re happy to give away millions of dollars to foreign companies to keep barely viable industries alive. Cruise ships undeniably bring in millions of dollars from tourism every year, not just to big cities but also to smaller communities such as Burnie and Eden so I’m happy to have them choose our ports over other ports and if Sydney Ports doesn’t make enormous profits on their visits then I’m happy to accept that. Their benefit to Sydney and Australia far outweighs making a few extra bucks on their berthing charges.

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