Hoping to cash in on cruise industry annual growth of 34%, newly minted Mayor of the Gold Coast, Tom Tate says he will ignore years of political sabotage and delays with an audacious bid to build a $30 million cruise ship terminal at The Spit in his first term.
In the days prior to last Saturday’s election, the affluent business man unveiled plans to build the terminal by 2014 with the financial support of Premier Campbell Newman.
The terminal, to be completed in 30 months, would likely be positioned off the southern seawall and include four 'floating' sections.
Under Tate's financial model, the State Government would contribute $15 million with the council adding $10 million. An additional $5 million would be set aside for contingency costs.
The Gold Coast City Council would obtain a lease on Crown land and operate the facility, cashing in on any financial return.
'There is political will to do this. With Campbell Newman at the helm and as another civil engineer, we both know that we can make this happen,' he said.
Tate said the two-storey terminal would allow cruise ships to re-stock with Gold Coast produce, adding extra value to the economic boost to tourism.
There would also be scope to construct a second docking area adjoining the proposed site, to allow an extra cruise ship to tie up alongside during peak seasons.
The terminal would be built and installed by Gold Coast companies, as a further boost to the local economy.
'A conservative figure of economic return is $25 million a year. There is a very good chance you could get your money returned in 18 months. Financially, it's a cracker!' said the city’s new Mayor.
New economic analysis by Deloitte Access Economics shows the Australian cruise industry contributed $828.1 million to the national economy in 2010-2011 – an increase of more than 44 per cent on its contribution of $576.6 million in 2007-2008.
According to the study commissioned by Carnival Australia the total economic contribution of cruising is highest in NSW ($370.9 million in 2010-11, forecast to be $1.128 billion by 2019-20) and Queensland ($166.4 million in 2010-11, forecast to be $340.8 million in 2019-20).
Tate said he would be guided by the Gold Coast Waterway Authority in identifying a suitable site near the Seaway. He said he hoped there would be no resistance from the Save Our Spit community organisation that scuttled the Beattie Government's plans to build a terminal.
'The guiding principle is that The Spit will remain open to the public and remain accessible to the public for the enjoyment of all Gold Coasters,' he added.
Locals opposed to the proposal, including the grass roots action group, 'Save Our Spit', vehemently accuse the 'boating industry' of greed and self-interest for pursuing both the cruise ship terminal and superyacht marina in the Broadwater.
Referring to a previous attempt to develop around The Spit, one member of Save Our Spit wrote on its site that any development will harm the natural environment 'where today thousands of people enjoy picnicking, swimming, fishing, jet-skiing, and just plain relaxing. Once developed, this can never be recovered.
'Commercially it's a no-brainer. Cruise ship occupants do not spend locally, they have already paid for their meals on board. At best they may go to Sea World for the day, or catch a cab to be touted in Surfers, all this at an enormous cost to tax and rate-payers.'