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Aug 28

Sydney ports could reach capacity by 2013

Sydney’s port facilities could hit capacity as early as 2013 if a new terminal isn’t built to cope with growing demand, an international cruise company is warning.

Australia’s cruise market is expanding so quickly that existing facilities won’t be able to accommodate the increasing number of large ships wanting to enter Sydney Harbour, says Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

“We have a good situation that needs attention before becoming a problem,” Royal Caribbean’s Australian managing director Gavin Smith said in a statement on Thursday.

The Miami-based company is calling on the NSW government to reconsider the $60 million allocated by the previous Labor government to build a new terminal in White Bay, in Sydney’s inner west.

It says the proposed terminal would not be able to support the growing number of ships that are too big to fit under the Harbour Bridge.

“Our view is $60 million is a considerable amount of money to invest in a permanent terminal west of the Harbour Bridge that most ships calling into Sydney in the future won’t be able to use,” Mr Smith said.

“It would be more prudent and viable to redeploy a large part of the funding towards a terminal (east of the bridge) the whole industry can use.”

A spokesman for NSW Minister for Roads and Ports, Duncan Gay, said the government was considering a report on the proposed passenger terminal at White Bay.

He said Sydney Ports had also begun a review of mooring options to handle larger ships at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay.

“Sydney Ports is committed to providing facilities that support the future growth of the cruise industry in Sydney,” he told AAP.

Royal Caribbean Cruises is deploying an additional three superliners to Sydney in the coming seasons, which it expects will increase its capacity four-fold, or by 100,000 guests.

“Add to that the deployments coming from competing cruise line companies that can only use facilities east of the Bridge,we need to consider the near future in order to assist our economy to grow to its full potential by ensuring we have the proper infrastructure to support its growth,” Mr Smith said.

He says demand for cruising in and around Australia is unlikely to slow, given the strength of the Asian tourism market and the expected increase of cruises between the Caribbean and Pacific.

“This is an opportunity Australia must grasp with both hands.”

Sydney ports could reach capacity by 2013.