Australia is missing out on jobs and millions in tourist spending because it won’t green-light better facilities for more ships and bigger ships in Sydney Harbour.
The new chair of the global organisation representing the world’s cruise lines, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), was highly critical of the lack of action in his first official visit to Australia.
Adam Goldstein, who is also president of Royal Caribbean, flew to Canberra to tell leaders from both sides of politics.
Clearly frustrated at the fact that everyone agreed it was a good idea but then did nothing, he explained that China’s growth could be a huge missed opportunity.
Australia could miss out on the larger ships which would sail the region’s oceans during the Chinese winter. That would mean a loss of income and jobs.
Mr Goldstein, who took over the chair on January 1, described the growth in Chinas, SE Asia and Australia as one of the most exciting developments of the past few years.
“The growth in Australia has been relentless for at least 10 years,” he said.
It has a symbiotic relationship, he said, with the growth in the Chinese market, where four ports and some of the world’s biggest ships are now positioning themselves for an explosion in cruising.
“From the cruise industry’s point of view, it is an ongoing opportunity for Australia to reap the benefits of the cruise economy, which is now probably in excess of $3 billion and clearly can be more.”
But he added: “The cloud in that sunny sky is the infrastructure question and whether Australia, and Sydney in particular, can grow its cruise infrastructure in a way that allows the growth rate of the last 10 years to continue.”
Asked about progress and whether he was confident, he said: “No I am not, and I am concerned.
“I see a country that is one of the leading locations of the world with every sophisticated capability. But what’s so amazing is the growth here, the complimentary growth in China and therefore the growth opportunity here is very tangible and real.”
He said it’s pretty clear that Sydney and Brisbane do not have the infrastructure today to support the kind of growth in the next decade that has happened in the previous 10 years.
“I think the market capability and interest from other parts of the world says the growth rate should continue. So we will continue to make the case.
“I cannot say we are very much closer to a solution.”
The cruise industry has been involved in a long-running argument with Defence over Garden Island, where the navy has a base in the heart of the city, occupied by aging destroyers and a new landing ship.
Royal Caribbean, where Mr Goldstein is President and COO, has suggested Port Botany as a possible compromise, but lines like Carnival, which includes Cunard, insist the Harbour option is critical.
Mr Goldstein will be hoping his strident words produce a reaction among politicians, and may galvanise the State Government before the election on March 28.
He is here for his association’s annual gathering of specialist agents and senior executives, Cruise360.
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