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PORT of Eden has been identified as a potential destination for some of the world’s largest cruise ships as Australia reopens to the international cruise industry.

Port of Eden is described as a tourism gateway to the southern New South Wales coast. Though cruise activity at the port has been at a standstill for two years, the return of cruise shipping in Australia this month has created an opportunity to modify Eden’s cruise wharf to accommodate larger ships.

Port Authority of New South Wales CEO Philip Holliday told DCN an increase to the number of cruise ships visiting Port of Eden would drive economic growth in the region.

“There is further scope and opportunity for Eden and the region to expand the number of visits and the size of cruise ships to Eden, providing a key element of future economic growth and recovery in the Sapphire Coast region,” Mr Holliday said.  

The New South Wales state government has outlined the modification proposal for the port, which would enable larger ships to berth.

The local community and interested groups have been invited to provide feedback on the government’s detailed proposal.

“There are a number of steps ahead in scoping this proposal starting with discussions with community groups and stakeholders,” Mr Holliday said.

“These conversations will inform an environmental assessment report for community consultation before it goes to the Department of Planning and Environment for assessment and consideration.”

Mr Holliday said protecting the amenity of the local community is paramount, and a number of conditions of consent remain for vessels visiting NSW ports, such as compliance with state and Commonwealth regulations.

“In addition, a whole raft of safety requirements are in place for the return of cruise as per the NSW government’s recent announcement.”

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David Elliot, minister for transport and veterans, said upgrades to the port would help unlock the region’s full economic potential.

“There has been growing demand from the cruise and shipping industries and the Royal Australian Navy to expand the use of existing facilities,” Mr Elliot said.

“With Eden strategically located between Sydney, Melbourne, and New Zealand cruise destinations, we know there is an appetite for increased cruise visits and modifications would allow larger vessels to add this beautiful part of NSW to their itineraries.”

Proposed modifications at Eden’s cruise wharf include increasing the annual limit on vessels visiting the port, which currently stands at 60; and allowing vessels to remain at berth overnight, every night, for up to a week.

It has also been proposed that the length of vessels allowed to berth increases from the current 325 metres to 370 metres, which would reportedly accommodate for some of the largest cruise ships in the world, carrying up to 6700 passengers.

Also, the proposed modification would allow non-cruise ships of more than 100 metres in length to carry out operational activities such as loading and unloading.

“We want to support local business and communities by better using the existing infrastructure at Eden to deliver greater economic opportunities for a region that has done it tough over the past few years – through drought, fires and the pandemic,” Mr Elliott said.

Consultation with community groups and stakeholders over the coming weeks will inform an environmental assessment report to be considered by planning authorities.

The cruise industry complements the Sapphire Coast’s existing visitor market of around one million visitors each year.

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