The federal government has rejected plans for cruise ships to dock at Garden Island alongside naval vessels in Sydney Harbour.
The NSW government will now move onto plan b and prepare a proposal to develop Port Botany to meet increasing demand.
In May, CLIA Managing Director Joel Katz told Travel Weekly that one in 18 Aussies are choosing a cruise based holiday, with almost 90 per cent cruising locally in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific.
“The challenge we have here in this part of the world, in particular, is the capacity constraints. We don’t have the capacity to accommodate the ships that want to come down here.” Katz said.
The ABC reports Yarra Bay and Molineaux Point have been flagged as possible sites for a third terminal with the Overseas Passenger Terminal and White bay struggling to meet demands in peak season.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that some people in the cruise ship industry have argued that Garden Island “should be vacated by the Navy so that cruise ships can come in”.
“Garden Island is a naval base and the ships of the Royal Australian Navy will always have the priority there, not … cruise ships,” he said.
CLIA told Travel Weekly that they have been calling for the NSW government to address Sydney’s infrastructure constraints for a number of years.
“The Federal Government ruling out shared use of Garden Island, this announcement is a very positive step forward to have a clear plan of action,” CLIA said.
“This ensures that the local cruise industry will be able to continue its exceptional growth trajectory and is a win-win for Australian cruise passengers as we will be able to welcome larger ships to our shores, and to the Australian ports and destinations which benefits from the considerable economic impact these ships deliver.”
CLIA Australasia Chair, Sture Myrmell, said the industry would work constructively with the NSW Government in relation to the feasibility studies required for the development of an additional cruise facility at Port Botany.
“As well as being at the centre of Australia’s largest cruise market, Sydney is one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations and requires facilities that can support cruising growth and its contribution to the economy,” said Myrmell in a statement.
“Last year alone, the cruise industry contributed more than $5 billion to the national economy supporting the equivalent of 21,000 full-time jobs with the majority of this contribution, at 60 per cent, centred on NSW.
“This contribution included the purchase of large amounts of local produce from primary producers and significant spending by passengers and crew.”
NSW tourism minister Adam Marshall told the ABC he was disappointed in the federal government’s decision.
“That was our first preference, both of the NSW Government and of the cruise industry,” he said.
He said that ships may now have to travel through Sydney Harbour to see iconic sites like the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House before berthing in Port Botany.
“Certainly it’s not ideal,” Marshall said.
“But internationally, there are many examples of cruise ship ports that are a long way away from the CBD of the city.”