NSW TOURISM MIN­IS­TER A ‘GAR­DEN IS­LAND SCEP­TIC’

Travel Bulletin - - CRUISE REPORT -

SYD­NEY is un­de­ni­ably the cruise gate­way for Aus­tralia, with an ar­rival into the iconic har­bour fea­tur­ing the Syd­ney Opera House and Har­bour Bridge be­ing on the bucket list for cruis­ers from across the globe. NSW Tourism Min­is­ter, Stu­art Ayres, is acutely aware of the need to boost cruise ship ca­pac­ity in or­der to con­tinue the growth of the sec­tor, but in­ter­est­ingly doesn’t be­lieve that the naval fa­cil­ity at Gar­den Is­land is go­ing to be the an­swer. Speak­ing at an in­dus­try func­tion last month Ayres gave a frank as­sess­ment of Gar­den Is­land, say­ing it is clear the Navy has long term plans for the fa­cil­ity there which make it un­likely it will be able to fill the cruis­ing gap. “I look out my win­dow and see new big Navy ships tied up there, along with a long list of mil­i­tary in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, and I’m scep­ti­cal about the cruise in­dus­try us­ing it on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” he said. Ayres also noted that mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions tend to be by their very na­ture un­pre­dictable. “We can’t plan our cruise ship ar­rivals around a Cy­clone in Fiji, for ex­am­ple,” he said. Ayres isn’t dis­miss­ing Gar­den Is­land out of hand, and be­lieves it will con­tinue to be used on an oc­ca­sional ba­sis as at present. How­ever it’s not look­ing likely it will pro­vide the to­tal so­lu­tion. He con­firmed his de­part­ment is cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing a long-awaited cruise in­dus­try plan which aims to pro­vide strate­gic di­rec­tion for cruise op­er­a­tors – and that in­cludes an eval­u­a­tion of a va­ri­ety of al­ter­na­tive dock­ing sites around the har­bour. “Some of these we haven’t looked at in a very long time,” he said, and once a short­list is de­vel­oped he will be speak­ing to the cruise com­pa­nies about the de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture at each lo­ca­tion. There’s no doubt the de­mand is strong, with a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of cruise op­er­a­tors al­ready send­ing ships with ca­pac­ity for 4000-plus pas­sen­gers down un­der – none of which have any chance of get­ting un­der­neath the Har­bour Bridge.

I look out my win­dow and see new big Navy ships tied up there... I’m scep­ti­cal about the cruise in­dus­try us­ing it on a ba­sis’ reg­u­lar

Stu­art Ayres, NSW Tourism Min­is­ter (cen­tre) with Wal­ter Nand and Sue Francis.

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