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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Naval base to be opened to cruise ships

Source: ABC News

The Queen Mary 2
 Photo: The Queen Mary 2 edges into her berth at at the
Garden Island naval base in 2009 (James Morgan: AAP)
Tourism lobby groups say moves to open Sydney's Garden Island naval base to big cruise ships will help boost one of the city's fast-growing industries.

During a speech at the New South Wales Labor conference this morning, Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised to expand the number of guaranteed berths at Garden Island for visiting cruise ships which cannot fit under the Harbour Bridge.

She also said a plan would be prepared to meet the long-term needs of the cruise industry.

Ms Gillard said in the short term, the Navy would allow three visits by superliners this coming season and another three the next.

Hopes in the tourism industry were initially dashed when calls to use Garden Island were declared to be in conflict with naval requirements.

The Tourism Transport Forum's John Lee says a compromise has now been found for the expanding cruise industry.

"The Government has listened and therefore they are now going to amend those arrangements to allow those big ships ... to actually access Garden Island for berthing purposes," he said.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore says the announcement is great news for local businesses.

She says the cruise ship industry is a big contributor to the national economy, contributing around $3 billion a year, with much of that activity centred on Sydney.

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