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stacey abel and jill abel
Jill Abel, CEO of ACA, right, and Stacey Abel handing out lanyards to delegates PHOTO: Helen Hutcheon

Regional port record numbers for ACA 2019

There were 130 delegates at the 23rd annual conference of the Australian Cruise Association in Geelong, Victoria, from September 4-6.

This made the third conference held outside a gateway city the biggest for a regional port.

‘What a record turnout,’ Jill Abel, CEO of the ACA said in her welcome address. ‘We have delegates from the USA, China, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, making it a truly international event.

‘Last year we spoke about the flatlining of our growth due to capacity constraints,’ Abel said.

‘Our preliminary data for the 2018/19 season shows that has been the case and looking at bookings for 2019/20, it may continue.

Blue waters ahead

‘However, there are blue waters ahead. With key infrastructure projects rolling out there is plenty to get excited about.’

Abel referred to the recently opened Eden wharf extension, the Cairns Shipping Development which is to be completed next year, the Broome channel optimisation program, cruise gangway and Kimberley marine support base — with dredging having just begun, the Port of Townsville upgrade of its navigational channels and the new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal to open next year with 190 bookings already confirmed for 2020/21.

Nine NSW ports

Destination New South Wales and the Port Authority of NSW used the ACA 2019 conference to launch a new industry brochure — Cruise Sydney & New South Wales — profiling nine cruise-ready ports.

Under the heading ‘major ports’ are Newcastle, Sydney, Port Kembla and Eden and under ‘minor ports’ are Bateman’s Bay, Kiama, Coffs Harbour, Trial Bay and Yamba.

It has berth details and includes pilotage & tug assistance, the maximum acceptable length and draft of vessels, anchor depth, tidal range and distance for tendering to shore landing.

Townsville in 2020

It was announced that ACA 2020 will be held in another regional port — Townsville, Queensland — from September 9-11.

The successful bid by Townsville Enterprise Limited, Townsville City Council and the Port of Townsville was supported by Tourism Events Queensland.

Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said the hosting of the conference is extremely timely as it comes during the port’s A$193m investment to widen the navigation channels.

‘We have a very strong focus on growing cruise visits and our channel widening project will enable us to accommodate the larger ships visiting Queensland to our world-class cruise ship terminal,’ Crosby said.