The NSW State Government is trying to find ways to increase capacity at White Bay and the Overseas Passenger Terminal to mitigate Sydney’s cruise crisis.
The moves come as what was hailed as a solution to the long-term capacity crisis of the harbour appeared to be running into an increasingly sophisticated lobbying campaign to block a terminal at Port Botany or Yarra Bay.
Just last Friday at their annual conference, cruise Industry leaders were celebrating the NSW Government’s decision to go with Port Botany as the city’s new cruise terminal solution.
But 24 hours later, fresh opposition came from a surprising source. Airline pilots claimed a temporary terminal could be dangerous for air traffic.
The locality with an airport and container port on its doorstep maintains it has had enough. Local council Randwick opposes the idea, and have the support of some state MPs.
While that battle plays out, the cruise industry is still under pressure as more demand and fewer berths threaten one of NSW’s biggest tourism growth industries.
Now, the Port Authority is looking with new vigour for fresh temporary solutions.
The authority has, in the past, suggested the idea of double berthing – a ‘stacking’ system which involved two ships using the terminal, one arriving in the early hours, and one arriving just after lunch.
But the idea was not welcomed by the cruise industry with lines saying that it was unfair to passengers disembarking in the early hours of the morning.
A spokesperson from Port Authority of NSW told Cruise Passenger: “Port Authority is continually exploring options to address capacity via operational efficiencies and policy changes that lead to better utilisation of berths. This has included the implementation of a new booking system in late 2017 that allows Port Authority to better manage overbookings, cancelations and slot amendments efficiently.
“At White Bay, where there is berthing availability for ships that can pass under Sydney Harbour Bridge, Port Authority has implemented measures to attract boutique brands to increase visitation of international passengers.
“Port Authority continues to work closely with industry on solutions to address cruise capacity both in the short and longer term.”
Joel Katz, the head of the Cruise Lines International Association said it was important that the industry looks at all options possible.
“The Cruise Development Plan included a commitment by the government to further investigate short and longer term options to increase capacity in Sydney, and to maximise the use of existing infrastructure,” he said.
“As an industry we support the process outlined in the Cruise Development Plan, and will continue to engage with the NSW government to ensure that any recommendations are appropriate to support the continued growth of the industry.’
But there has been much opposition to the federal government’s decision to rule out Garden Island as Sydney’s much needed second cruise terminal.
Instead, the federal government has advised that Port Botany and Yarra Bay would be the best spot for the proposed development.
Earlier this month, Randwick Council unanimously voted for Yarra Bay Beach and Frenchman’s Beach to become state heritage-listed to stave off any development.