Lack of cruise infrastructure sinking Sydney’s visitor economy

The Tourism & Transport Forum has called on the NSW and Federal Governments to urgently secure Sydney’s cruise infrastructure or risk losing out on the surge in global demand for ocean cruising.

TTF Chief Executive, Margy Osmond, said that without an immediate solution to address the current lack of cruise infrastructure in Sydney Harbour, more top cruise companies will make the call to bypass Sydney as a premier destination.

“Cruise shipping is the most dynamic and fastest growing sector of the Australian visitor economy, and has rapidly become one of the great success stories for Australian tourism,” Ms Osmond said.

“Demand for ocean cruising is surging internationally and Australia is currently positioned as one of the world’s fastest growing cruise markets, with passenger numbers increasing by 20 per cent on average each year for the past 12 years.

“However, our largest cruise gateway, Sydney, is at peak capacity and with the world’s top cruise companies now diverting their premier liners, the time for action to recover lost cruise business, prevent further withdrawals and ensure that growth can occur, is now.

“If Sydney is not available as a destination for large cruise liners, the whole country will miss out. We are now on the verge of a cruise crisis.”

Ms Osmond said TTF has called on the Federal Government in its 2017-18 Budget Submission to explore establishing common user terminal facilities at Garden Island for the use of large cruise ships.

“The continuing growth of the close to $5 billion cruise industry must no longer be taken for granted. Work needs to be done immediately to secure supportive infrastructure on the eastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” Ms Osmond said.

“With port facilities at Circular Quay at full capacity, and an increasing number of ships too large to pass beneath Sydney Harbour Bridge to access the White Bay terminal, the only deep-water option in the city which is able to accommodate growth is Garden Island.

“Port Botany is not the answer, the big draw is Sydney Harbour. It is not just international tourists that crave the ‘big picture’ moment of sailing through the heads. This is also about Aussie tourists who want to feel that sense of excitement and pride that comes from sailing in and out of their Harbour City.

“TTF and the cruise industry has been calling for years for the NSW and Federal Governments to develop a fair sharing arrangement with the Royal Australian Navy to allow cruise ships to access the infrastructure at Garden Island permitting visitors to disembark directly onto the shore.

“Unless this solution is urgently adopted, the ship of opportunity will set sail.”