The new Eden Welcome Centre has opened for business ahead of the news that cruise ships will be returning to the town in late 2021.
The welcome centre, near the Eden Cruise Wharf, will greet thousands of tourists each year once cruises are able to start again after voyages to the town were cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But there is hope on the horizon. Royal Caribbean International, Australia and NZ managing director Gavin Smith said Eden was a magnificent town in its own right as well as a gateway to the Sapphire Coast, and that ships were looking at pulling into port at the end of the year.
“Royal Caribbean is scheduled to make 10 calls to Port of Eden during the 21/22 season – beginning with a visit from Quantum of the Seas on 1 November 2021, subject to gaining permission from government to recommence cruising in Australia – and nine calls across the 22/23 season,” he said.
The new welcome centre was officially opened on 30 April with Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres saying it meant Eden was open for business and ready to welcome tourists back with open arms.
“Each cruise ship brings around 2000 passengers into Eden — a huge boost to the local economy,” he said.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance said for years volunteers had been up at dark to set up their stalls or erect marquees and get ready to welcome arriving cruise passengers.
“This amazing space and home of the Eden Visitor Information Centre will showcase the region’s attractions, promote local businesses and offer local arts, crafts and produce to tens of thousands of tourists each year,” Mr Constance said.
“I am excited to see the centre completed and know what a difference it will make to our volunteers who have endured the hard yards.”
Designed by Cox Architects and constructed by local company Rankin Builders, work on the two-story Eden Welcome Centre began in March 2020 and has provided more than 10,000 hours of work to around 40 regional subcontractors.
The ground floor is for visitors, market stallholders and amenities and the first floor is office space.
Built from native regional hardwoods and featuring artwork, stories and heritage interpretation throughout, the centre is a tribute to the region as it celebrates maritime history, First Nations history and storytelling, wildlife, and the region’s key industries.
Port Authority of NSW CEO Philip Holliday said the Port of Eden was an increasingly popular cruise destination because it provided a gateway to the Sapphire Coast for cruise ships travelling between Sydney and Melbourne.
“The Eden Welcome Centre, along with the Eden Cruise Wharf, will further strengthen the region’s place on the Australian cruise map and help bring the economic benefits of cruise tourism to its shores,” said Mr Holliday.
The Port of Eden is also one step closer to being a safer harbour following the award of the tender to build a wave attenuator.
Mr Constance said the wave attenuator would calm wave activity in the cove, provide a safe harbour for local and visiting vessels and protect valuable maritime infrastructure.
“Providing a safe harbour will enhance Eden’s reputation as a safe boating destination which will stimulate local investment in the maritime and tourism sectors,” Mr Constance said.
“Exposure to significant wind and wave conditions in the working port had historically limited the recreational, commercial and port vessel operations on the NSW Far South Coast.
Mr Constance said Austral Construction Pty Ltd provided the best fit for the project and also has a record of delivering large-scale infrastructure projects, including the recently upgraded Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal wharf and the piling package on the Nowra Bridge.
Building work on the 366-metre, fixed panel wave attenuator is expected to start towards the end of the year and be completed by September 2022.