A GOLD Coast home-port cruise ship terminal could employ up to 3,600 people and inject $2.8 billion into the local economy over three decades, a project business case has identified, according to the City of Gold Coast, which last week agreed to move to the next phase of planning for the project.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the Ocean-side Cruise Ship Terminal (OCST) project could become one of the city's biggest employers and deliver an outstanding return on investment, generating $3.7 billion for Queensland and $2.8 billion for the Gold Coast over 30 years.
"A home port would make the Gold Coast a serious contender in the cruise market, delivering up to 480,000 visitor night stays annually," Cr Tate said.
"As a city built on tourism, we can't turn our back on the chance to tap into a whole new visitor market, provide a fantastic new attraction and lift our profile as an international destination."
The council is working with PwC and AECOM to assess feasibility of an ocean-side terminal close to the city's major accommodation centres, including Surfers Paradise and Southport.
The proposed facility could include a 900 metre long jetty, sheltered by a 780-metre low profile breakwater parallel to the beach. The jetty would support up to two wharfs, each able to take ships up to 364 metres in length. When not in use, the jetty could potentially become a visitor attraction in its own right.
The project follows a decade of falling domestic visitation to the Gold Coast, with Cr Tate adding that domestic visitor nights have dropped nearly 20 per cent over the past 10 years, while in the same period, Australian cruise passenger numbers increased by 480 per cent.
"The business case presented to Council demonstrates that we can turn that trend on its head and deliver a long-term economic windfall for tourism, jobs and generations to come," Cr Tate said.
"It would put the Gold Coast on the global cruise map, and, together with a new terminal in Brisbane, it would make south-east Queensland a high-demand destination."
Cr Tate said the business case had shown the economic and social benefits of a home-port cruise terminal for the city. "A home port could be delivered at no cost to the city and would be cash-flow positive from an operational perspective," he said.
"Recently we heard that the project would not require Federal Government environmental approval as long as it meets required conditions.
"Now we will need to make sure it complies with State requirements. It will be a lengthy process. In our 2017/2018 City Budget we will allocate the funding needed to undertake the extensive work to submit an Initial Advice Statement (IAS) to the State Government."