The Gold Coast cruise terminal debate has fired up again with several new proposals on the table for consideration by the Gold Coast City Council.Millionaire developer Bob Ells is reportedly proposing the development of an AUD$200+ million facility close to Coolangatta airport in North Kirra which is set to include three hotels, three berths, a casino, water port, underwater observatory, new North Kirra Surf Club and a super yacht marina.Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate spoke of Mr Ells’ plans on ABC Brisbane radio last week, stating that whilst the council would consider the facility, there are three other options that have been put on the table as well.

These three options include a y-shaped terminal near the Sheraton on the ocean side of the Spit, which will be able to berth four megaliners, a terminal at the man-made Wave Break Island at the end of the Spit and a third option on the southern side of Wave Break Island.

“Give me eight weeks to narrow it down to three viable options…we’ll put three up and have them voted on by the people of the Gold Coast,” Mayor Tate said to ABC Brisbane.

The news has community group, Save Our Spit Alliance Inc., up in arms following an agreement with the Bligh government that there would be no development north of Sea World on the western Spit and none on the eastern Spit north of the Sheraton.

“Ship terminals are not appropriate in the Broadwater full stop for sound economic, environmental and social reasons,” Save Our Spit vice president Kate Mathews said to e-Travel Blackboard.

“It is a shallow estuary and the dredging required would be prohibitively expensive and ruinous environmentally. The Mayor’s recent suggestion that he wants a ship terminal anywhere in the Broadwater has caused a great deal of distress and upset to the community.”

The proposals don’t stop there though, with the Gold Coast Bulletin reporting that Singapore-based company Sembawang, is proposing a $4.9 billion development on Wavebreak Island slated to include a cruise terminal, six-star hotel, casino, and super yacht terminal.

While Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry is keeping mum about the influx of new proposals, Royal Caribbean managing director Australia Gavin Smith told The Australian that the company might look at backing the venture.

“We would investigate the potential for capital involvement in any project.”

Mr Smith went on to tell The Australian that Royal Caribbean was excited by the Gold Coast business community’s interest in the potential development and would assist the cause by providing any information required. He also acknowledged the constraints related to accessibility.

“The challenge for the Gold Coast is the marine navigation of the area and building a facility that could be reliably accessed by visiting cruise ships.”

While the focus has remained on terminal development on the Gold Coast, Save Our Spit would like the GCCC to look at the options available for local tourism operators to leverage off the cruise ship visitors calling into Brisbane instead.

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Words: Natalie Aroyan