10 April 2024

Eden's cruise ship season busiest on record, with port expansion on the cards

| Claire Sams
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Member for Bega Doctor Michael Holland (pictured with NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen) said tourism in Eden was a growing industry – and the numbers proved it. Photo: Supplied.

Eden’s latest cruise season has been surfing a wave of strong support, amounting to its busiest on record.

When the season officially ends this month, 41 ships will have visited Eden over the 2023-24 season, an increase of more than 20 per cent on the previous summer.

NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen said the 2023-24 season was a “boom season”.

“That means over 100,000 people have come through this port – 70,000 passengers and 30,000 crew coming to visit and experience this beautiful part of NSW,” she said.

“It means a big boom, of course, for the local economy.

“Estimates are around $19 million worth of investment into the local community as a result.”

According to data from Cruise Lines International Association, each domestic cruise passenger spends on average $197 per day while their ship is in port.

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However, it is not always smooth sailing – a dip is expected in the 2024-2025 season when about 25 ships are expected to stop by Eden.

A ship’s booking is made three years in advance, meaning the effects of COVID-19 are still being felt by the industry.

Ms Hayden said there were good signs on the horizon.

“The following season [in 2025-26], we are expecting some 47-plus ships in a continuation of that growth which is great – not only for the port of Eden but, of course, for this broader region and for our state,” Ms Hayden said.

A cruise ship coming into port

Port Authority CEO Philip Holliday said the COVID-19 pandemic and overseas conflict would affect next season’s cruise numbers. Photo: Supplied.

Port Authority CEO Philip Holliday said the cruise industry was also keeping an eye on events happening across the world.

“There’s two primary reasons [for that drop],” he said.

“One is linked into the lag from COVID, and the other is a little bit more obscure … in the challenges in the Red Sea.

“In particular, Virgin Cruises have pulled out of Australia next season because of the challenges in the Red Sea region.”

Mr Holliday said he was confident numbers would not be too disrupted.

“I think the projections are very strong,” he said.

“The facilities are excellent and the community really pulls together, so I think we’re in the best place we can possibly be.”

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Member for Bega Doctor Michael Holland said once tourists made landfall, they were quick to start exploring Eden and the wider Far South Coast.

“Eden is a beautiful place, even when there’s not a ship here,” he said.

“People make their way up to the town centre, and that’s a boost to every shop up there – from coffee shops to newsagents to the secondhand store.

“Our Snug Cove attracts people all year round just because of the natural beauty of our area.”

Dr Holland said there were also future opportunities ahead for tourism on the NSW Far South Coast.

“What we want to see, really, is this to be a hub for expanding our tourist industry,” he said.

“People are particularly interested in cultural experiences in this area, so that’s a great way to incorporate our Indigenous population into the tourist industry, and the natural beauty speaks for itself.”

A possible expansion of the Port of Eden is on the cards, with plans lodged with the Department of Planning to modify it to fit larger cruise ships and other vessels.

“That’s really important because, for example, within this season there were a couple of ships that were too large to dock here,” Ms Hayden said.

“Instead, they stayed offshore and we have to then ferry in those passengers.

“That is a lesser experience and it does mean that fewer passengers get off those ships.”

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I’m a little behind, but is that all? 200 bucks per passenger? What a ripoff !!!
Cruise ships are a environmental disaster (black smoke chuffing out all the time and dumping 1000’s of tonnes of poorly treated sewage just off the coast) and their aim is to get passengers to spend the majority of their money onboard. I just read one of the comments re $175 for the whale museum tour. See what I mean? How much went locally? All they do is offer tiny amounts to local towns; being big business they are not going to let any money escape if they could.

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