Dolphin decision a win for NZ economy
The decision to allow two new ship mooring dolphins at Auckland’s Queens Wharf will benefit both the city and the wider New Zealand economy, according to the New Zealand Cruise Association.
Improved facilities for larger cruise ships will provide both social and economic spinoffs, and ensure Auckland will continue to be an important part of regional cruise tourism, NZCA Chief Executive Officer Kevin O’Sullivan says.
“This is a forward-looking decision that will future-proof Auckland’s attractiveness as a cruise port. We want to thank Auckland’s Mayor and Council for understanding the infrastructure needs of the cruise industry,” Mr O’Sullivan says.
Independent commissioners for Auckland Council yesterday granted resource consent to Panuku Development Auckland Limited for the dolphins and associated access gangways from the end of Queens Wharf in Auckland. The works will enable the port to berth larger cruise ships than can presently be accommodated at Princes or Queens Wharf.
The commissioners said that once Captain Cook Wharf is operational as a large cruise ship berth, the dolphins would be removed, which was a key feature of the application that weighed in its favour. The positive economic and social benefits, and improvements to the current process of receiving large cruise ships, were also beneficial features recognised by the commissioners.
Mr O’Sullivan says New Zealand’s cruise sector is growing strongly, and is projected to add $1 billion to New Zealand’s economy in the next decade. Cruise ship expenditure for the year to June 2018 grew by 18.3% in comparison to the previous year, totalling $434 million spent by visitors. Auckland was the most visited port with 211,652 passengers arriving in the June 2018 year.
This growth is being driven by larger vessels, more cruises, and more passengers, who often stay overnight in the city as a result of embarking or disembarking from New Zealand ports.
“Auckland is the gateway port for the New Zealand cruise industry. When Auckland misses out on the larger ships, the country misses out, and cruise lines will not book ships to come to Auckland without adequate infrastructure,” Mr O’Sullivan says.
“It’s important that we steer the direction of the cruise sector rather than just reacting to its growth, and that means significant infrastructure investment and collaboration between the sector, communities and ports to ensure this growth is sustainable.
“Auckland Council’s plan for a longer term solution by developing a permanent site for cruise ships on Captain Cook Wharf is a good one but it is too far in the future. We need solutions now, and the berthing dolphins will ensure that we do not miss the opportunities to expand our cruise sector and continue seeing the economic benefits to our cities and regions.”
Ports such as Lyttelton, Picton, Wellington and Otago are investing significant sums to provide infrastructure for these larger cruise ships. Auckland’s new dolphins will integrate well with these developments.
“We look forward to working with the Mayor and Council to progress the installation of this long-awaited piece of important Auckland port infrastructure,” he says.