Fears that the Gold Coast cruise ship terminal project could be bailed out when the cruise industry wakes up

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Opponents of building a controversial cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast fear the proposal will be revisited when the cruise industry picks up.

The federal government banned foreign-flagged cruise ships in March 2020 as it grappled with the early stages of the pandemic.

The original ban was extended until December 17, but the government said that did not mean it would be lifted on that date.

With the cruise ship industry on hiatus for more than 18 months, Gold Coast City Council and Mayor Tom Tate, a cruise ship terminal (CST) supporter, have put the proposed project on hold.

Now Save Our Broadwater vice president Judy Spence has said she worries the idea may be bailed out.

“The idea for a cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast has been around for over a decade.

“Various options were explored and none of them proved particularly successful.

Locations for a CST have already been identified on Wave Break Island on Broadwater and within the Gold Coast Seaway. The last proposal concerns an offshore terminal.

An offshore cruise ship terminal is being considered by Gold Coast City Council. (Provided: City of Gold Coast )

“A lot of work has been done… and a lot of money has been spent on it. I think the board has spent over $ 12 million,” Ms. Spence said.

“At the end of the day, it just doesn’t add up.

Kathryn Robinson, professor emeritus at the Australian National University (ANU), believes the Gold Coast is a good choice for a terminal because of its location.

“I think it would probably be very attractive,” she said.

“The problem with these cruise ships is that they are totally dependent on planes to get passengers to places where they can get them en masse.

“You can very easily get the passengers off the ship on buses, which is the classic model, and take them to all these beautiful places in the backcountry or down to the beach. ”

A cruise ship floats on blue water
Foreign cruise ships were banned from Australian waters last year.(Provided: Paul Gauguin Cruises)

Professor Robinson said although the industry has suffered from the pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“The global cruise industry is very determined to get back on its feet,” she said.

Dr Robinson said cruise ship operators believe they have adequately responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by imposing conditions on staff and passengers.

“Many ships reserve about a third of the passengers they would normally take.

“Since June and July, cruises have been organized in the United States and Europe.”

Transfer reservations

The ANU academic said there were strong bookings until 2022 as operators offered deals to bring passengers back on board.

“People who love cruises really love cruises and they can’t wait to go back,” she said.

“There is a great diversity in the cruise industry and different types of cruises attract different types of people.”

Man wearing a face mask with an image of a smiling mouth printed on the front.
Tom Tate is a longtime supporter of a cruise ship terminal. (ABC Gold Coast: Heidi Sheehan)

Judy Spence of Save Our Broadwater said she would not be surprised if the mayor of Gold Coast reconsidered the CSE’s proposal.

A spokesperson for Mr Tate’s office said the CST project had been “put on hold,” given what happened to the global cruise market during the COVID pandemic.

The council is prioritizing other tourism strategies, the spokesperson said, such as a cable car in the hinterland, diving sites at sea and an 8,000-seat musical and event arena project.


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