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New Sydney cruise space on way but Garden Island needed

March 5, 2014 Cruise, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59The tourism industry has welcomed yesterday’s decision by the NSW Government to upgrade Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) to meet the demands of a booming cruise industry. But cruise industry chiefs say cruise access to Garden Island is still needed.

NSW Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay revealed plans yesterday to extend the wharf towards Campbell’s Cove, representing a AUD 49 million investment in Sydney’s cruise infrastructure.

“The NSW Government’s plans to upgrade the OPT will allow for faster turnarounds and an improved passenger experience which will in turn enable more large ships to use the berth efficiently,  generating even further benefits for Sydney’s economy,” Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia general manager, Brett Jardine, commented.

“The ships that visit Sydney bring enormous economic benefits to the NSW economy as they draw hundreds of thousands of intrastate, interstate and international tourists to the city, injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy and generating thousands of jobs.”

Carnival Australia chief executive Ann Sherry gave a qualified welcome. The decision to develop the OPT was a very welcome step, she said, but it remained the only commercial berth east of the Harbour Bridge. Events

“It is certainly a step forward to accommodate increasingly larger cruise ships at Circular Quay however the redevelopment of the terminal does not in itself increase Sydney’s capacity,” Sherry pointed out.

“Carnival Australia has long advocated shared access at Garden Island and has worked hard to build a positive and cooperative relationship with the Royal Australian Navy.”

Speaking at the Friends of Tourism event at Parliament House yesterday, Sherry described Australia’s “new golden era” of cruise tourism and highlighted its value to regional ports and primary producers in particular.

In a wide ranging address to MPs and Senators, she also pointed to the need for port infrastructure investment and national consistency in port operations.

“If we get it right, the phenomenal growth of cruising that we have seen in recent years, with a 130% increase in passenger numbers in five years, can continue,” Sherry said.

Sherry used the speech to further stress the need for shared long term cruise ship access to Garden Island as a priority issue because of Sydney’s status as the cruising gateway to Australia and the key to regional ports continuing to experience the economic benefits of cruising growth.

“To better understand the current boom in cruising, between 1965 and 1997, the legendary and much loved P&O Fairstar carried 700,000 passengers. More Australians are now cruising in a single year than cruised on Fairstar over a 32-year period,” she said.

Some of the challenges with potential to limit cruise industry growth included:

  • Port infrastructure requirements including the need for certainty in relation to shared use of Garden Island so that Sydney could continue its vital role as the cruise gateway to Australia and the key to cruise ship visits to regional ports
  • The need for national consistency in the operation and pricing of Australian ports where the existing fragmented approach was the maritime equivalent of ‘the bad old days’ when multiple rail gauges retarded Australia’s economic development
  • Concern that future ship dry docks, each valued between AUD 15 million and AUD 25 million, could be lost to Australia because of additional red tape costs involved in complying with a disputed interpretation of Customs legislation. 

Referring to the long value chain of cruising, Sherry said that primary producers were among those who benefited most along with hotels, restaurants, cafes, visitor attractions, tour operators and taxi drivers.

Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF) deputy chief executive Trent Zimmerman said the upgrade announced yesterday provided “the missing link” to increased access to Garden Island so the potential of the sector isn’t stymied.

“While this upgrade will allow bigger ships to use the OPT and improve passenger facilities at the terminal, it will not address the looming shortage of berth space in Sydney,” Zimmerman said.

“Nearly 1 million cruise passengers are expected to visit Sydney each year by 2020 and the city needs more berthing facilities to take advantage of this growth.

“The OPT is currently the only accessible terminal for large cruise ships. In the next three years a third of all cruise ships visiting Sydney will be unable to fit under the Harbour Bridge to access the White Bay Cruise Terminal.

“Shared access with the Navy at Garden Island, in the peak of the summer cruise season, is the obvious long term solution so that Sydney and Australia more broadly, can fully benefit from the growing number of cruise ships wanting to travel to Sydney.”

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. AgentGerko says:

    Government wimps out again. So we’ve got a wharf that takes one ship, and when its all finished we’ll have… a wharf that takes one ship.

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