Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry today welcomed the NSW Government’s redevelopment of the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay while calling for certainty in relation to shared use of Garden Island.
Ms Sherry said the decision to develop the OPT was a very welcome step but it remained the only commercial berth east of the Harbour Bridge.
“It is certainly a step forward to accommodate increasingly larger cruise ships at Circular Quay however the redevelopment of the terminal does not in itself increase Sydney’s capacity,” Ms Sherry said.
“Carnival Australia has long advocated shared access at Garden Island and has worked hard to build a positive and cooperative relationship with the Royal Australian Navy.”
Speaking at the Friends of Tourism event at Parliament House today, Ms Sherry described Australia’s ‘new golden era’ of cruise tourism and highlighted its value to regional ports and primary producers in particular.
In a wide ranging address to MPs and Senators, she also pointed to the need for port infrastructure investment and national consistency in port operations.
“If we get it right, the phenomenal growth of cruising that we have seen in recent years, with a 130 per cent increase in passenger numbers in five years, can continue,” Ms Sherry said.
Ms Sherry used the speech to further stress the need for shared long term cruise ship access to Garden Island as a priority issue because of Sydney’s status as the cruising gateway to Australia and the key to regional ports continuing to experience the economic benefits of cruising growth.
“To better understand the current boom in cruising, between 1965 and 1997, the legendary and much loved P&O Fairstar carried 700,000 passengers. More Australians are now cruising in a single year than cruised on Fairstar over a 32-year period,” she said.
“In the post war assisted passage migration scheme, 1.5 million British migrants arrived in Australia, many travelling on P&O ships. By 2016, four years earlier than forecast, a million Australians are expected to cruise each year. There has never been a cruising boom on a scale that we are now experiencing.”
Ms Sherry said that cruising was a ‘gilt edged opportunity’ for regional Australia in particular but there were challenges in addition to the opportunities.
Some of the challenges with potential to limit cruise industry growth included:
- Port infrastructure requirements including the need for certainty in relation to shared use of Garden Island so that Sydney could continue its vital role as the cruise gateway to Australia and the key to cruise ship visits to regional ports
- The need for national consistency in the operation and pricing of Australian ports where the existing fragmented approach was the maritime equivalent of ‘the bad old days’ when multiple rail gauges retarded Australia’s economic development
- Concern that future ship dry docks, each valued between $15 million and $25 million, could be lost to Australia because of additional red tape costs involved in complying with a disputed interpretation of Customs legislation
Referring to the long value chain of cruising, Ms Sherry said that primary producers were among those who benefited most along with hotels, restaurants, cafes, visitor attractions, tour operators and taxi drivers.
In one year, Australia’s home cruise brand, P&O Cruises, sourced local produce including 3.3 million eggs, 465,000kg of beef, 589,000kg of poultry and 260,000 bottles of wine, mostly from Australian wineries. Tasmania supplied 20,000kg of ocean trout and 40,000kg of salmon.
“When cruising is considered from a value added perspective, you see a rolled gold economic opportunity,” Ms Sherry said.
“It makes solving any obstacles to cruise industry growth a sensible step for the good of the nation and the urban and rural communities that benefit.”