Cruise industry welcome for PM’s stopgap Garden Island decision

Issues & Trends – July 2012

Cruise industry welcome for PM’s stopgap Garden Island decision

CRUISE industry leaders have welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to reject the recommendations of the Hawke Review into berthing ships at Garden Island in Sydney. But they have stressed it is only a short term solution to the issues posed by the lack of infrastructure at Australia’s gateway port.

The Hawke Review came down against any change to existing arrangements for cruise line use of the naval facilities at Garden Island, provoking bitter disappointment within the cruise industry faced with inadequate facilities for the large super liners that are visiting Australia’s gateway port in increasing numbers (travelBulletin, April).

However Prime Minister Gillard this month announced that the Federal Government will guarantee access to the naval base for the three largest ships to visit Sydney in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 seasons.
Royal Caribbean International’s managing director Australia, Gavin Smith, welcomed “the short term assistance to our growing industry” provided by the PM’s decision.

“RCI is the largest user of Sydney’s Circular Quay and knows better than anyone the challenges of berthing in Sydney Harbour,” he said.

“We understand that Garden Island will be made available on the two occasions when our ships would otherwise have needed to spend the second of their two days in Sydney at anchor at Athol Buoy.

“The two ships, Celebrity Millennium and Radiance of the Seas will turn around at Circular Quay before moving to Garden Island because other ships have bookings at the Overseas Passenger Terminal.”

Also welcoming the development Ann Sherry, the chief executive of the country’s largest cruise company, Carnival Australia, called the PM’s plan “a positive step that will help ensure Sydney continues to fulfil its role as an attractive international cruise destination, the gateway to cruise destinations throughout Australia and the hub for the world’s fastest growing cruise market.

“The alternative, where cruise ships would be forced to moor mid harbour before ferrying passengers to shore in tender boats, would not only give international visitors a poor introduction to Sydney but also act as a brake on cruise industry growth,” she said.

But both Sherry and Smith also stressed that longer term solutions are needed.

Sherry said infrastructure improve-ment is vital to accommodate cruise ships that are too big to sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge – within three years, a third of cruise ships visiting Sydney will be unable to go under the bridge increasing to 56 per cent of ships by 2020.

“The Prime Minister’s announc-ement only underscores the need for a permanent solution in the form of a new berth for larger ships in Sydney,” said Smith.

Tourism and Transport Forum (TTF) chief executive John Lee praised the PM’s announcement as “a sensible concession … a compromise which industry hopes will pave the way for expanded permanent access in the future”.


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