The Hunter Business Chamber has described the withdrawal of $12.7 million in State Government funding for the Newcastle Cruise Terminal as a significant setback to the region’s ambitions to grow and diversify its tourism offering.
Chamber CEO, Bob Hawes said that the withdrawal presents a major setback for tourism and the economy of Newcastle and the Hunter region.
“The loss of funding is very disappointing for the region, particularly for those tourism operators who are investing in facilities and services to improve our visitor economy,” Bob said.
“Hosting cruise ships offers a valuable opportunity to promote Newcastle and the region directly to an international market.
“We are currently receiving around 28,000 passenger visits a year from cruise ships and many of those are overseas visitors.
“It is clear that the existing facilities are inadequate for a growing market and do not help to create a good first impression for our visitors.”
Bob said the government was contributing to the development of cruise facilities in other destinations and similar investment was warranted in Newcastle, which had demonstrated its potential as cruise destination by attracting an increasing number of ships each year.
“The port is acknowledged as an emerging tourism gateway in the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan, which identifies the role of the Newcastle Cruise Terminal in leveraging tourism opportunities,” Bob said.
“The State Government also committed in the 2018 NSW Cruise Development Plan to supporting the growth of cruise tourism in existing regional destinations including Newcastle.
“The Chamber believes construction of a new cruise terminal is a high priority for regional economic development and is keen to work with the State Government and industry stakeholders to get this project back on the agenda.”
Representatives of Port of Newcastle said they are pleased that $800,000 of upgrades to mooring bollards, jointly funded by the NSW Government and the Australian Government, have enabled larger ships of up to 3,900 passengers to berth in Newcastle.
IMAGE | Newcastle Harbour