With Aussie ports preparing for the big cruise comeback this weekend, the NSW government has taken the next step in its grand plan to transform Eden into a destination of choice for cruise lines.
Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott is encouraging locals and interested groups to provide feedback on a proposal to modify the Eden Cruise Wharf on the state’s far south coast to increase its yearly cap on vessel visitation and allow larger ships to berth.
Currently, Eden has a limit of 60 vessels a year, and only allows ships up to 325 metres long to berth.
The changes would allow the port to accommodate some of the largest ships in the world carrying up to 6,700 passengers.
The proposal also seeks to allow vessels to stay at berth overnight seven days a week, similar to the current infrastructure approval for vessels less than 100 metres and to allow non-cruise ships greater than 100 metres in length to carry out operational activities, such as loading and unloading.
Eden has experienced growing demand from the cruise and shipping industries and the Royal Australian Navy to expand the use of existing facilities, according to Elliott.
“With Eden strategically located between Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand cruise destinations, we know there is an appetite for increased cruise visits and modifications would allow larger vessels to add this beautiful part of NSW to their itineraries,” he said.
“We want to support local business and communities by better using the existing infrastructure at Eden to deliver greater economic opportunities for a region that has done it tough over the past few years – through drought, fires and the pandemic.”
Eden locals have so far been supportive of the growth in cruise tourism in the region, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz.
“We welcome the NSW Government’s efforts to make careful plans for the future of cruising on the state’s South Coast and look forward to Eden playing an important part in the revival of cruise tourism in Australia,” Katz said.
“Eden is a great example of a community that has worked closely with the cruise industry and governments to foster cruise tourism in a way that provides enormous benefits to local people and businesses. Cruising has an excellent long-term outlook in Australia and it’s important that we continue to look at ways to support well-managed cruise tourism in regional destinations around the country.”
Consultation with community groups and stakeholders over the next few weeks will inform an environmental assessment report for assessment and consideration by planning authorities.
The cruise industry complements the Sapphire Coast’s existing visitor market of approximately one million visitors per year with cruise passengers spending around $390 per day when on shore.
Last month, the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, confirmed Australia’s cruise ban would be lifted on 17 April after two long years.
Additional measures will be introduced to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading onboard ships, including requiring passengers be double vaccinated, enhancing pre-arrival screening, implementing outbreak management plans, and COVID-19 safety plans.
Image: Visit Eden