PASSENGERS arriving in Sydney aboard the increasingly popular cruise ships will no longer alight at Darling Harbour.
Their first steps on Sydney’s soil will be in the industrial precinct of White Bay despite the plan being branded short-sighted because of the likelihood that bigger ships of the future will be thwarted by the Harbour Bridge.
As part of yesterday’s announcement about the future of Barangaroo, the Minister for Ports and Waterways, Paul McLeay, said the Cruise Passenger Terminal would be permanently moved to White Bay Wharf 5.
”Barangaroo construction would severely interrupt cruise ship operations, and the customs and migration exclusion zones would have been incompatible with the area,” he said.
However, Chris Brown, the managing director of the Tourism & Transport Forum, suggested the plan to build the terminal at White Bay was short-sighted. Mr Brown said shipboard cruising was the strongest growth area in Australian tourism.
He said cruising was providing the jobs to enable Sydney to once again call itself a working port. ”We’re talking about tens of thousands of jobs, not three blokes and a crane,” he said.
He said the new generation of cruise ships meant that 80 per cent of ships visiting the harbour in future years would be too big to fit under the Harbour Bridge.
He suggested the navy consider sharing its Garden Island facilities with the cruise ship industry.
An Access Economics report, commissioned by a cruise industry company, Carnival Australia, and released this month, found the cruise industry contributed $1.2 billion to the national economy in 2007-08 and that the number of cruise ship passengers was expected to triple by 2020 .
A former Liberal MP, Patricia Forsythe, who now heads the Sydney Business Chamber, said ships docking in Sydney brought about $500,000 in revenue to the city, while the top end of the market, such as the Queen Mary 2, brought about $1 million.
The head of Carnival Australia, Ann Sherry, has criticised the relocation to White Bay saying the industrial area did not provide a good first impression of Sydney. But the Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, said the decision to relocate was the preferred option, ”including from the cruise industry”.
Construction of the new terminal is expected to be completed in 2012.