Tourism

“Turnbull for Tourism Minister”: Destination NSW board member

Hannah Edensor

The man behind Australia’s successful 2000 Olympics bid and board member of Destination NSW, Rod McGeoch, has criticised Sydney’s progress since the historic event.

The turn of the millennium down under looked set for an incredible tourist boom following on from the Sydney Olympics in 2000, but McGeoch believes there’s too much red tape hindering progress.

He also suggested a stronger head for tourism in the Federal Government, touting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as the necessary leader.

In a Daily Telegraph article, McGeoch claimed the tourism industry has failed to build a clear vision for the future.

“What happened with the Games was that it was seen as an event to close the last century rather than a launch pad for the new one,” McGeoch told Daily Telegraph.

“When New Zealand Prime Minister John Key took on the tourism portfolio it send a really clear message. Malcolm Turnbull should do the same.”

McGeoch also had plenty to say on the contentious and ongoing topic of the cruise infrastructure dilemma in Sydney Harbour.

In another Daily Telegraph exclusive, they revealed plans put forward to the NSW Government and Premier Gladys Berejiklian regarding possible terminals on Garden Island.

Botany Bay was also propped up as an alternative, in addition to the concept of double stacking at Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Despite many major cruise lines rejecting that idea, cruise advocate Richard Davey said double stacking was one of the best options.

“Who wants to go to Port Botany?” Davey argued, adding that “the navy is not about to vacate Garden Island any time soon”.

On this subject, McGeoch affirmed that Garden Island, in his opinion, was the most viable solution, but that sitting around and talking about it wasn’t going to get the industry anywhere.

“How can we hold our head up as the gateway to Australia when we are ferrying cruise ship passengers by tender to a marquee on Garden Island for immigration processing?” he demanded to The Tele.

The cruise industry is worth over $5 billion to the Australian economy, as revealed in a recent report, but that hasn’t helped push the cruise infrastructure crisis along, with ships like Voyager of the Seas even being forced to homeport in Singapore rather than Sydney due to lack of capacity.

McGeoch also had a few words to say on the development of new hotels in Sydney and the progress of Western Sydney Airport.

Per The Daily Telegraph, McGeoch warned that Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport’s 80 flights per hour cap was leaving some carriers considering Melbourne.

Speaking with other tourism officials at a think tank session this week, McGeoch also predicted a drop in Sydney tourism and events if it didn’t build more hotels – and fast.

Per The Tele, another attendee Matt Bekier, Chief Executive at The Star, said he had 12 new hotels worth $5 billion in the pipeline, but only one would call Sydney home, and even that process was taking too long.

“When we go to the Gold Coast and say we want to build some towers they say, ‘How high do you want to go?’ But in Sydney it is so hard to get development through the local council,” Bekier said.

“If the City of Sydney has its way there will not be a lot of difference here over the next 20 years.”

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