“The State Government (of Western Australia) is committed to growing the cruise industry by addressing regulation and infrastructure issues,” said Tourism WA (Western Australia) Acting CEO Stephen Wood.
Among the changes for cruise operators, casino operations are permitted when ships are traveling between WA ports.
With nine ports, including Perth as a key homeport, WA is in close proximity to ships coming from Southeast Asia, offering a variety of niche destinations.
Mid-West Ports recently installed two sets of shore tension units for Geraldton, Wood said, to ensure reliable berthing. There is also funding heading to Kimberly Ports to purchase an all-tide gangway system for the Port of Broome.
In Exmouth, a steering group has been formed to enhance anchor and tender operations. Wood said Exmouth was a transformational cruise port that holds the key to growth for WA.
“Perth and the port city of Fremantle are also undergoing massive transformations, thanks to unprecedented levels of public and private investment, making both more attractive places to visit,” Wood told Cruise Industry News. “Perth has seen redevelopments on a huge scale including improvements at Perth Airport and the Elizabeth Quay waterfront precinct. Fremantle is undergoing major redevelopment, with more than $1 billion in the investment pipeline. New small bars, restaurants, cafes and retail precincts have popped up in both cities, giving cruise visitors many shore options for dining and shopping.”
Recent highlights included the Queen Mary 2 making a visit to Busselton, with a return call planned in February 2018. The Ovation of the Seas called in Fremantle last December and comes back earlier this year, with a November call on the books.
This coming season will see 44 cruise ship visits for Fremantle, a small decline as some capacity has been moved elsewhere. Cruise & Maritime Voyages is a key customer, homeporting the Astor for a fifth consecutive season.
Inaugural visits are scheduled by the Regatta, Ocean Dream, Azamara Journey, L’Austral, Seven Seas Navigator and Golden Princess.
Tourism WA is pushing its strategy to make its nine ports a key cruise destination, by developing the necessary infrastructure to serve industry capacity, according to Wood.
“Since 2012, Tourism WA has helped to deliver 30 ‘Welcoming Cruise Passengers to the West’ workshops to more than 1,000 tour guides/drivers and volunteers across the state,” he said.
In addition is a new accredited training program for tour guides funded by Tourism WA, which will debut in Geraldton, Busselton and Albany.