Aussie ports must remove bottlenecks to stay ship-shape

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bottlenecks at major Australian ports must be streamlined if the full potential of the cruise industry is to be realised, said Carnival CEO.

Citing the latest report by Access Economics, Ann Sherry warned that governments must step up to the challenge of updating major ports, otherwise opportunities will pass.

“If action isn’t taken soon, the cruise industry in Australia could be swamped by lost opportunities that will only benefit overseas ports and hurt the national economy,” says Ms Sherry.

“This report reinforces the need for visionary thinking from politicians, planning officials, and the industry itself.”

The Access Economics report found that the cruise industry’s last year contributed AUD734 million towards the Australian economy – double that which the government had assumed.

This lucrative sector could potentially grow to surpass AUD1 billion by 2010 and AUD3 billion by 2028 if current growth rates were to continue.

“Without a determined approach, which allows for the prospect of more luxury ships and superliners docking at our major coastal cities, the cruise industry could experience severe port congestion in the next few years,” Ms Sherry continues.

“The Access report is a shot across the bow for policymakers who must take action to prevent the cruise industry from facing the sort of infrastructure bottlenecks that have hampered the export coal industry up and down Australia’s east coast for far too long.”

The report also claimed that Australian-based cruise activity in 2010 will be 300% greater than in 2004.

Currently most major Australian ports are heavily cargo-orientated, and port-planning doesn’t prioritise passenger movements. With the cursing sector growing at leaps and bounds, and ship shapes also changing dramatically, Australian ports now face the threat of being unable to cope with changes.

Ms Sherry points directly at Sydney harbour, the largest port in Australia, and says that the failure of governments to build and plan adequate port facilities means visits to one of the world’s greatest harbours by more than one superliner at a time are very unlikely.

Also looking at Brisbane, she points that large ships can’t pass under the Gateway Bridge and the mixed-use nature of the Portside Wharf complex equates to major stumbling blocks for major cruise lines.

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