The Bega Valley could enjoy significant benefits from the growing Asian tourism market and should be prepared to use its political influence to ensure it gets the best results delegates at Bega Valley Shire Council’s Economic Summit were told.
CEO Tourism and Transport Forum, Margy Osmond, said the upgrade of Merimbula Airport and the developments at Eden were very exciting but issued a note of caution in relation to the cruise industry and the number of berths available at Sydney.
I don’t believe there is any need to instill fear in our region because of Sydney's issues.- Natalie Godward, Cruise Eden
“The whole of the Australian cruise industry is predicated by Sydney. Cruise operators like to announce their packages two to three years out. If a cruise operator is unable to get a berth and get to Sydney, they are unlikely to come to Eden,” she said.
This where political influence, Ms Osmond said, in an increasingly important electorate, was a strong card.
But Natalie Godward, of Cruise Eden dismissed the concerns.
“I don’t believe there is any need to instill fear in our region that we would miss out because of Sydney’s issues. We have a good relationship with the Port Authority because we are a Port Authority port,” Ms Godward said.
“We are important for Sydney because we are one night’s sail away and can offer flexibility,” she said.
“The Norwegian Cruise Line has set up an office in Sydney and we are on their schedule for the first time in the 2017/18 season. We’re also talking to Royal Caribbean, looking ahead two years, which is a time frame that suits us very well. The wharf will be completed in the fourth quarter of 2018 in time for the 2018/19 season,” Ms Godward added.
Ms Osmond highlighted the importance of the area’s natural beauty for Asian visitors and suggested that tourism operators needed to look at the major Asian festivals, such as the Lunar New Year, and ask where did they fit around some of those large festivals.
She also said that the industry was short of about 38,000 workers, a figure that would only increase.
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