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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lack of infrastructure could unravel booming Australian cruise industry

by Daisy Melwani, e-travelblackboard

The Australian cruising industry yet again experienced double digit growth for its fifth consecutive year; however with the lack of urgent infrastructure development in key ports experts warn the bubble may eventually burst.

Speaking at the 2010 Partnership Summit, , Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry described Sydney and Auckland's current port-situation as an infrastrture dilemma which was frustrating and slow moving, saying it was critical to develop facilities to keep pace with the growing cruise market.

The ICCA reported an 11 per cent growth to nearly 367,000 Australians having cruised in 2009, with market penetration also increasing to 1.7 per cent, most of which has been attributed to Carnival Australia's commitment to the region, leading the growth with supply.

"Any discussion of infrastructure ultimately becomes Sydney-centric or Auckland-centric. Sydney and Auckland are both key to the industry's continued expansion and positive customer sentiment. Both cities are cruising hubs for the South Pacific and magnets for visitors for our global brands," Ms Sherry said.

"The brutal truth is that if cruise facilities aren't up to scratch in Sydney and Auckland, the international cruise ships from the global brands won't come to our region"

"That's not just bad news for Sydney and Auckland; it would also be a hammer blow for the smaller interstate ports"

Ms Sherry said discussions were well underway with federal and state governments reminding them the urgent need to invest in appropriate infrastructure, but said the problems also flowed through to the various port authorities causing even further delays due to the fragmentation of decision makers.

Ms Sherry said the biggest challenge was making port authorities and government bodies understand the potential tourism value of upgrading infrastructure for the cruising sector. She also said the industry as a whole lacked proper long term pre-planning capabilities.

"We are running a business that's ambitious for growth, but the pace of it is not a business like pace," Ms Sherry said commenting on her talks with government bodies. "It's like we're not as ambitious enough in this tourism sector … there aren't enough voices so it is a problem to galvanize the growth and experiences for all sectors."

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