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CLIA Australasia gets set for cruise industry lobbying push – and tones down the rhetoric


Issues & Trends

CLIA Australasia gets set for cruise industry lobbying push –
and tones down the rhetoric

CRUISE Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia will next year release an economic impact study detailing the contribution that the cruise industry makes to the Australian economy.

It will provide substance to a stepped up cruise industry lobbying effort set to get under way following this month’s annual general meeting of CLIA Australasia.

The AGM, taking place as this issue of travelBulletin goes to press, is scheduled to
approve a new constitution bringing government affairs within the association’s ambit.

The setting up of a sub-committee on government affairs, ports and infrastructure, a retainer for an external lobbying organisation and moves to leverage CLIA’s global resources are also on the table.
Australia’s need for investment in infrastructure, particularly at the gateway port of Sydney, to handle larger ships and increased passenger numbers is behind the drive for urgent lobbying action.

Until now Carnival Australia boss Ann Sherry has been pretty much a lone voice, using her profile to gain publicity for outspoken comments on the present inadequacies of this country’s cruise infrastructure.

With the way cleared for CLIA Australasia’s involvement, the industry will be able to take a more strategic lobbying approach rather than having to rely on the efforts of one individual.
And the indications are that this new lobbying effort will tone down the rhetoric hitherto used in calling for action.

Faced with the need to grab headlines on the industry’s behalf Sherry’s comments have in the past been colourful, strong and often scathing.

But her most recent comments were notably less strident. Speaking after she addressed the Cruise Shipping Asia Pacific Conference in Singapore earlier this month, Sherry, CLIA Australasia’s deputy chair, was measured and considered.

“The conference was an opportunity to discuss the critical issue of port infrastructure,” she said.

“The need for appropriate investment in port facilities remains a high priority issue for the Australian cruise industry, however, recent experience in Asia shows that over-investment in infrastructure in concentrated areas can present its own problems.

“It is essential to get the infrastructure balance right. It has to be functional and capable of supporting growth but it also has to be commercially viable both for the operators and the cruise shipping companies using it.”

Observers note that Asian countries have recently ploughed hundreds of millions of dollars into port facilities in Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tanjing. On the other hand Fort Lauderdale has been able to modify its facilities to receive Royal Caribbean’s Oasis class mega-ships at a cost of $US18 million.

Cruise lines are very conscious that ultimately the operators of port facilities will want to recover their investment costs leading to higher fees. This in turn will have to be reflected in higher fares which eventually will be a disincentive to cruise market growth.

 

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