Why the cruise industry is aiming high in Australia

Australian Cruise Association is helping destinations to develop their infrastructures and cruise offerings

Why the cruise industry is aiming high in Australia
Jill Abel has been CEO of the Australian Cruise Association since 2015

By Guest |

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of the International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Australia’s cruise industry ended 2017 on a high after the country welcomed 50 different cruise ships during a total of 1,197 port days. Notable visitors included Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2, which docked 12 times in six states over three weeks; Royal Caribbean International’s Ovation of the Seas, the largest ship to visit Australia; Seabourn’s new Seabourn Encore; and Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel, which is now based in Australia for the season. On the radar is Viking Cruises’ debut with Viking Sun arriving in February 2018.

Expedition cruising has also become increasingly popular as passengers to Australia show more interest in visiting destinations such as the Tiwi Islands or Thursday Island. At the Australian Cruise Association (ACA), we represent all the entities that work together to bring these amazing vessels into port. Our members include tourism organisations, ground handlers, providores, port authorities and attractions. In 2017, we also saw adjacent businesses come onboard, including an airport lounge operator and a real estate organisation that manages retail outlets, showing the far-reaching economic impact of the industry.

Importantly for our association, Australia’s destination infrastructure is growing in line with the number of visiting cruise vessels. Last year, numerous projects to develop terminal facilities and surrounding waterfront precincts started at ports including Brisbane, Cairns, Gladstone, Newcastle and Eden. This will drive economic development for destinations and job growth in the cruise industry.

Recognising the importance of infrastructure development, our membership elected Grant Gilfillan, CEO of the Port Authority of New South Wales, as our new chair in September 2017. We look forward to having his strong leadership at the helm as our industry embarks on further growth in 2018.

To help prepare our members for that growth, ACA continued to provide its popular Destination Development workshops in 2017, heading to places like Burnie in Tasmania and Kangaroo Island in South Australia to provide further education and support the local operators. We were also delighted that Tourism WA provided a grant for a comprehensive tour guide training programme, which has already kicked off in Geraldton and Busselton.

Destinations have continued to play an increasingly important role in the itinerary choices for a cruise passenger so it is wonderful to see both major cities and regional markets developing new experiences for their enjoyment. Last year, they included cultural performances, food and wine tours and nature/wildlife experiences. We also saw numerous ships carrying passengers to major events such as the Australian Open (tennis) and State of Origin (football) and, for the first time in 2017, P&O Australia’s Pacific Jewel cruised into Hobart for the Dark MOFO arts and culture festival.

We are confidently looking forward to the next 12 months thanks to great results from a recently commissioned Demand Study that addresses industry trends and projections, as well as a Passenger Insights Analysis that will take us into the future.

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