Cruising confirms its place as the standout success of Australian tourism

Carnival Australia today welcomed new industry statistics that confirm cruising remains the standout success of Australian tourism with a 34 per cent increase in cruise passenger numbers in 2011.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates a combined fleet of seven P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises ships, said Australians have also emphatically confirmed their continued confidence in cruising as a great holiday choice.

In 2011, 623,294 Australians took a cruise holiday – nearly 160,000 more than in 2010 -- maintaining seven years of consecutive double digit growth, according to figures released today by the International Cruise Council Australasia (ICCA).

"Strong local support for cruising as an exciting holiday choice has led to another year of extraordinary growth for the Australian cruise industry again confirming it as the standout success of Australian tourism," Ms Sherry said.

"The industry is well and truly on course to surpass its goal of carrying a million passengers a year by 2020 with market penetration levels also rivalling or surpassing that of mature markets in North America and Europe.

"We have merely scratched the surface of the Australian cruise industry's growth potential.

"As we have seen recently with P&O Cruises' announcement of new itineraries to Papua New Guinea, Australians are eager to experience the  idyllic destinations and fascinating cultures of our region and cruising is a perfect way to do it."

Ms Sherry said the latest growth figures follow the recent release of a Deloitte Access Economics study that showed cruising contributed $830 million in added value to the Australian economy in 2010-2011 -- an increase of 44 per cent since an earlier study for 2007-2008.

In welcoming the latest ICCA statistics, Ms Sherry said port infrastructure gaps, particularly in Sydney Harbour, remained the greatest threat to further cruise industry growth.

"Sorting out cruise ship berth arrangements in Sydney has never been more urgent with an increasing number of cruise ships having to anchor mid harbour because of the lack of suitable berths," Ms Sherry said.

"We share the view of passengers that arriving and departing from Sydney Harbour is an integral feature of the cruise experience.

"A three berth solution with White Bay, the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay and shared use of Garden Island on an ad hoc basis during peak cruise periods, is still the best option for Sydney," Ms Sherry said.

Carnival Australia looked forward to further discussions with the Federal Government and the NSW Government to resolve Sydney's port infrastructure issues including shared use of Garden Island.