Cruise

Garden Island cruise terminal could be “doable” in 3-5 years

Hannah Edensor

An exclusive Daily Telegraph report has unveiled reports that a new cruise ship terminal could be popping up at Sydney’s Garden Island within three to five years.

The Tele revealed a report that’s been put in front of the NSW government, and that argued for the right for cruise ships to be allowed access to the naval base, in particular the site of the old Hammerhead crane.

The author of the report, former Liberal leader and Navy Reserve, Peter Collins, has been campaigning for this option to cater for international cruise ships for some time now.

In July, Collins said Garden Island was a clear answer to the Aussie cruise industry’s woes, and formed a new cruise industry reference group, with industry and government representations, to bring proposals and solutions to the Government.

Now, per the Tele, Collins said the Navy and cruise industry could “have the best of both worlds” by sharing access.

“The cruise ship industry contribution to NSW is $3 billion and we have just got to work out a solution,” he said.

“We believe we can come up with a solution that allows the navy to stay exactly where it is at Garden Island but also makes way for the cruise ships that are coming,” Collins told reporters on Wednesday, per news.com.au.

“We can have a win-win here – a win for navy staying at Garden Island and a win for the cruise industry which is coming whether we like it or not.”

Just last week, the value of the cruise industry surged past $5 billion for the first time. But despite NSW remaining the dominant cruise state, accounting for 58 per cent of the industry’s economic contribution, it was its six per cent growth last financial year that saw its share drop 10 per cent in just two years due to Sydney reaching capacity.

Per The Daily Telegraph, Collins said his report posed a number of possibilities for the cruise industry, including berthing cruise liners at Botany Bay. Meanwhile cruise ships that can actually still fit under the bridge would continue berthing at White Bay Terminal in Balmain.

“But tourists want that Opera House, Harbour Bridge experience. The glaring option is a new terminal building where the main crane used to stand,” he said, per The Tele.

According to Collins, this would still let the Navy remain on Garden Island and predicted this development was “eminently doable” in three to five years on a reasonable budget.

But, as the Daily Telegraph reported, a Defence spokesman last night seemed to rule out any of these prospects beyond its current allowance of maximum three cruise ships being berthed at Garden Island per season.

Per news.com.au reports, Collins pointed out an obvious, but very serious dilemma; more than 50 mega cruise liners – weighing more than 120,000 tons each – are under construction as we speak, and will need a place to stay when they sail into Sydney Harbour.

“If we don’t do anything those ships are going to end either up not coming to Australia or going to ports other than NSW ports,” he said, per news.com.au.

News.com.au also reported NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian admitting they will consider what the report is recommending, but claimed further talks with the navy are needed before they move any further.

Unfortunately, this has been a trend for a long time now, with the Navy consistently pushing back on the idea.

Just last month, Regent Seven Seas Cruises President and CEO Jason Montague, told Travel Weekly that without some serious innovations, Australia could risk losing out to all the other stunning destinations around the world.

“Looking forward, I think it is important for Australian ports to seek a new balance and plan how best to handle the demand and volume of ships and how best to cater to the potential two million Australian cruisers by 2020, as well as international travellers,” he said.

And in June, we spoke to Norwegian Cruise Line’s Executive Vice President of International Business Development, Harry Sommer, who said it was almost rude to invite cruise ships down under if we had nowhere for them to berth.

“It’s one thing to invite the world’s biggest cruise brands and luxury liners to homeport in, or visit, cities such as Sydney, but without the infrastructure to support Australian cruising’s current momentum, the local market will stagnate – and Australian travellers will be the ones to miss out.”

Per news.com.au, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “We want to consider all of our options in encouraging further tourism and further cruise sector involvement in our great city”.

“Obviously anything we can do to promote that is a positive thing … but we do have some way to go in engaging with our stakeholders and having those discussions.”

Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay had 100 more ships dock in 2016/17 compared to the White Bay terminal, according to news.

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