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Posted on June 8th, 2012, by

Nowadays, the tourism industry is rapidly growing in many countries of the world. Naturally, Australia attracts a great number of tourists to visit its shores using modern ship liners. The supporters of the development of tourism in Australia argue that this may be an extremely beneficial business, especially if large cruise ships would be able to harbour in Australia. But there exists quite a different view on this problem for the development of tourism and the increasing number of cruise ships can deteriorate environmental problems of the country. In this respect, it is worthy of mention the current conflict around the building of the Gold Coast’s cruise ship terminal in Coffs harbour. The conflict is between the Gold Coast developers and the local population who attempt to protect their own interests and local environment against the negative impact of the cruise ships in the result of the building of the cruise ship terminal.

Primarily, it should be pointed out that the creation of the cruise ship terminal was basically motivated by purely economic factors. For instance, Gold Coast Hotel Management Co. Ltd., which is going to enter the market of cruise shipping in order to improve its current position in the tourist industry, estimates that Gold Coast will receive about $26 million in annual economic benefit from one liner per fortnight (Peterson 2006). It is worthy of mention that the recent researches conducted by the company led to quite optimistic results for Gold Coast. For instance, Captain Wight, which is currently employed as an experienced professional in cruise shipping by the company Gold Coast Hotel Management Co. Ltd., told Stateline We have examined work that demonstrates a pretty substantial economic benefit to areas that have a cruise port (Peterson August 20, 2006).

It should be said that Gold Coast Hotel Management Co. Ltd. is the leading company that attempts to develop cruise ship terminal in the Coffs harbour as its pilot project in entering the cruise shipping industry. The company argues that it is a perfect place to cruise ships and tourists and that the creation of the cruise ship terminal would be extremely beneficial to the local economy since it will increase substantially the profits from tourism as there will be more tourists who can visit this area. At the same time, it is necessary to remember that it is primarily the company and its owners, G.L. Stewart and F. Ratcliff, will benefit the most from the building of the cruise ship terminal in the Coffs harbour since it possesses cruise ships and operates in tourists industry.

As for the local population, it seems to be quite doubtful that they will equally benefit from cruise ships harbouring nearby. Moreover, the local population is totally opposing to the building of the cruise ship terminal. Local population argues that the building of the new terminal can produce a negative impact on the region basically in terms of the local ecology. The local population appeals to local authorities, including Deputy Premier Anna Bligh, who attempts to protect their interests in the existing conflict. In fact, she is a stakeholder, who defends the position of the population, and she underlines that the building of the cruise ship terminal by Gold Coast Hotel Management Co. Ltd. can have disastrous impact on the environment (Peterson August 20, 2006). In response, the owner of the company, Ratcliff, estimates that the threat to the environment is rather hypothetical than real (Peterson 2006).

However, not all local authorities are really opposing to the projects of Gold Coast Hotel Co. Ltd. to build the cruise ship terminal. For instance, the mayor of Coffs harbour, Keith Rhoades, rather takes an in-between position since he realizes the potential economic benefits of the development of tourism in Coffs harbour but he is not sure in its environmental effects, notably he states, the effects of cruise shipping on the Coffs harbour’s environment are under-researched, and we cannot sanction the building of the cruise ship terminal here without profound researches, however, he seems to be ready to compromise, as he states that it proves beyond a doubt that economic effects of the new terminal would be highly positive (Peterson August 20, 2006).

Coffs harbour’s authorities are quite careful in the development of such projects as the building of the cruise ship terminal. At the same time, the position of keeping Coffs harbour clean is supported by many people who are not living in this area. For instance, Ian Kiernan, founder of the Clean Up Australia Campaign, underlines that the resistance of the local population to the building of the cruise ship terminal and the concern of some of the local politicians, such as Anna Bligh, is really important since preservation and safety of the local environment is a really wise strategy that is the way of the future (Peterson August 20, 2006).

Furthermore, a local resident, Mary Quinn emotionally says: We don’t need any cruise ship terminal here, it’s our land and it’s our right to decide what to build here (Peterson August 20, 2006). Such rejection of the project is basically motivated by the fear of the local population of the future impact of the terminal on the environment of Coffs harbour.

Nonetheless, the Gold Coast Hotel Management Co. Ltd. estimates $26 million per year. But, at the same time, it will lead to the increasing number of cruise ship that will constantly visit the area and, naturally, affect the local flora and fauna. This is why it is possible to understand the unwillingness of the local population to agree with the building of the cruise ship terminal in the area.

In such a situation, the position of the local population seems to be more convincing since there exist alternatives to the development of the local tourism, namely, there is an international airport. This is why economic benefits from the cruise ship terminal would be more beneficial for the owners of cruise ships while the effects of the building of the terminal on the local nature remain under-researched.

In such a situation, Gold Coast and the population of Coffs harbour have to choose between economic profits and environmental safety. The solution of such a problem is quite difficult but possible. In this respect, it is possible to recommend primarily carefully research the effects of the building of the terminal and the further impact of the cruise ships on the local environment. On researching possible environmental effect of the cruise ship terminal and its functioning with the participation of the company Gold Coast Hotel Management Co. Ltd. and the representatives of the local population, it will be possible to definitely say whether it is possible to build it or not. At any rate, environmental security should be prior to economic profits.

Thus, the development of cruise shipping by Gold Coast Hotel Management Co. in the Coffs harbour faces a strong opposition from the part of the local population and environmental organizations which are really concerned on the problem of environment protection. It is obvious that economic arguments are not sufficient in the development of cruise shipping when environmental problems are totally ignored. This is why it is necessary to underline that the development of cruise shipping in the region should be accompanied by the environmental researches, which could provide ample opportunities to objectively assess its impact on the environment.

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