Swelling to over $5 billion, the value of cruising in Australia reached a record high over the past financial year, a new report has revealed.
Commissioned by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, the independent report showed the economic output of the local cruise industry grew 15.4% year-on-year in 2016-17, to $5.3 billion.
The number of port visits also rose to a new high, as did the number of ships, 58, to sail local waters.
Total cruise ship visit days increased to 1,401 (up 19%) thanks to local itineraries featuring on more than half of all journeys.
There was also a 14.5% rise in total ship visit days for home-ported vessels and a 23% surge in transit ship visit days. The importance of home-ported ships was reflected in an average passenger spend of $527 pre- or post-cruise, compared to $153 during a transit day.
Despite positive overall numbers, capacity constraints in Sydney, Australia’s cruising gateway, continue to worry authorities, with NSW growth pegged to just 6% last year.
Although NSW remains the leading cruise state, accounting for 58% of the industry’s contribution, its Australian market share has fallen 10% in just two years. By comparison, Queensland experienced 14% growth (21% of market share) in the past year while Victoria saw a 12% increase (7% of market share).
“The industry is now contributing more than $5 billion to Australia’s economy but it could be much more,” CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz said.
“With the nation’s cruise gateway at crisis point, the challenge is to ensure strong economic growth for years to come and the only way to make that happen is to find a solution to Sydney’s capacity constraints.
“Australia is one of the world’s most appealing cruise destinations for global cruise lines but Sydney is a big drawcard and if Sydney is full, this discourages more cruise ships from heading to our shores.”
The Cruise Tourism’s Contribution to the Australian Economy 2016-17 report also revealed massive growth for Tasmania (138%, 3% of market share) and Western Australia (104%, 7% of market share), thanks to increased ship deployments in those states.
The report showed that around 200,000 inbound cruise passengers visited Australia last year, spending $392 million in port cities. Domestic passengers spent $758 million. Nearly 80% of expenditure went towards accommodation, transport, food and beverage, and shore excursions.