Sustainability, responsibility, opportunity.
These were the key themes under discussion when the fifth annual CLIA Cruise360 conference got underway in Sydney today.
An audience of more than 500 industry leaders and travel agents from Australia and New Zealand gathered to hear the latest news and hot topics from one of the biggest growth sectors in the travel industry.
“Our latest figures show that Australia and New Zealand are once again world beaters, with Australia having the highest passenger penetration in the world,” said Joel Katz, Managing Director CLIA Australasia and Asia.
The cruise sector pumped almost $5 billion into the Australian economy in 2016/17 and last year almost six per cent of Australians took a cruise.
“This gives us the confidence that there is a lot of opportunity for further growth.”
Mr Katz added that this growth had to be sustainable and that the industry collaborated with environmental stakeholders, developed technologies and lead the maritime sector in the best environmental practices and policies.
“Protecting and preserving the environment is the right thing to do and it is fundamental to the long term success of our industry.”
Cindy D’Aoust, President & CEO of CLIA Global, released statistics predicting 28 million people will take an ocean cruise in 2018 with that figure expected to reach 40 million in the next 10 years.
“We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the environment and of the places that we visit. Because we are at sea, everything we do has to be done better. We have to be more efficient, more effective and we have to be more mindful than land-based resorts,” she said.
Ms D’Aoust added that because of the cruise industry’s ability to innovate, ships now recycle 60 per cent more per passenger than the average person on land.
“We must join with the rest of travel and tourism to preserve and protect the culture, heritage and natural beauty of every place that we visit.”
The hot topics of infrastructure and Sydney’s berth crisis were also discussed. The government’s recent decision to rule out Garden Island as another option to Circular Quay paves the way for Botany Bay to become the site of a new cruise terminal.
“We are at a crossroads because we have been saying to government for the last eight years that we are going to have a capacity problem and it is going to stifle growth. Companies want to bring product here but there’s no room at the inn,” said Steve Odell, Senior Vice President & Managing Director Asia Pacific, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
“Now we have discussion, collaboration and a potential solution. What the government decides to do now is very crucial for the future.”
Mr Odell backed the Botany Bay site, highlighting it was close to the airport, had the space to build the necessary infrastructure and allowed companies the chance to show visitors Sydney Harbour as part of their cruise.
“It’s all about having a modern, state-of-the-art facility and more capacity. It is going to give us the ability to grow significantly.”