Bratton, a former vp and gm Asia Pacific for Cunard and founder of Orion Expedition Cruises and what was Cruise Council Australia (now CLIA Australasia), was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to tourism, particularly the cruise ship industry.
As well as her role as chairman Asia Pacific for Ponant, she is special advisor to the company’s Marseilles-headquartered executive board. Future plans for the ultra-luxury company include the building of four new expedition ships, one of which will be positioned in and around Australasia on a year-round basis.
Referring to the theme of this year’s annual conference, Together Towards Tomorrow, Bratton said the abolition of cabotage would not just be for tomorrow, but for the future.
‘There should be no cabotage in Australia,’ she said, lending support to a proposal to abolish the Coastal Trading Act’s current three-tiered licensing system with a single permit for both domestic and foreign registered vessels. This would allow foreign-owned ships to access and engage in ‘unlimited transport of passengers and goods’ between Australia’s domestic ports over a 12-month period.
‘Are we trying to protect an industry that doesn’t exist?’ she said.
‘Most other governments incentivize companies to visit.’
She said Australia is the greatest destination in the world, ideal for year-round expedition cruising.
However, she said, due to current restrictions on foreign-flagged vessels, particularly those under 5,000gt, none of the owners of the 22 new expedition ships being built between 2018 and 2022 have shown interest in coming to Australia.