Queensland Government keen to find alternative to Trinity Inlet dredging to grow Cairns cruise market
Queensland’s Tourism Minister says she is confident the cruise industry can grow in the far north without deepening Trinity Inlet in Cairns.
The Government said it would not support dredging as part of the Cairns Shipping Project, despite lobbying by local leaders and the business community.
Earlier this year, it rejected a Ports North proposal to dredge almost 4.5 million cubic metres of spoil from Trinity Inlet.
Minister Kate Jones said that did not mean Ports North would not be able to create new opportunities in the lucrative cruise ship market.
“I’m not responsible for allowing the approvals side of that process but what I can say in my discussions with the relevant Minister is that they’re at the table with the proponents to see if there is a way that we can deliver this that protects the environment, so it stacks up environmentally but also delivers for this industry,” she said.
She said while the Government’s policy on dredging near the Great Barrier Reef was clear, an alternative plan may be possible.
“We support growing the cruise ship terminal, cruise ship industry here in Queensland and we are working with proponents both here in Cairns and the Gold Coast,” she said.
“We want to see an expansion of cruise ships here in Queensland and the industry.
“I’ve heard that loud from the tourism sector and we’re working with the current proponents to do that.”
The CEO of Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Alex de Waal, said there were other options.
“One particular type of cruise operation we are interested in attracting are boutique operations that are based in port here,” he said.
“So if we can get a cruise operation based here that is going to offer a far better return than some of the larger ships that perhaps can’t get in if we don’t dredge the actual port.”
He said he welcomed continuing negotiations about the Cairns Shipping Project.
“I think everybody agrees as long as that development does not incur any negative impact on the reef then absolutely and I think everybody’s on the same page,” he said.
“We want to protect the reef. We’re actively investing in protecting the reef and if we can, concurrent to that, allow for the expansion of the tourism industry through expansion of port facilities, then that needs to be facilitated.”