(Australian Associated Press)
The largest cruise ship to visit Australia has made its national debut and is expected to inject more than $35 million into the economy in its first season.
Ovation of the Seas docked in Fremantle on Tuesday as part of a Singapore-to-Sydney journey, and is expected to generate more than $2.4 million for the local economy just from passenger spending.
Premier Colin Barnett said cruise shipping was a vital part of th state’s $9.6 billion tourism industry, which he’s focused on stimulating in a bid to diversify WA’s economy beyond mining.
“Last financial year, the sector contributed $275 million to the state’s economy and WA recorded 121 cruise ship visit days, a 19.8 per cent increase on the 101 visits in 2014-15,” he said.
“Cruise shipping forms an important part of our overall strategy to increase the value of tourism in WA to $12 billion by 2020.”
Activities onboard the $US1 billion ship include a viewing capsule that can hover 90 metres above sea level, robotic bartenders, a circus school, and indoor sky diving and surfing experiences.
It will depart Fremantle on Wednesday before stopping in Adelaide and Hobart en route to Sydney, where it will dock on December 15.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said he’d never seen Fremantle so busy with tourists.
He used the opportunity to make an election pledge, promising to attract more visitors to the historic city by redeveloping the South Quay of Fremantle’s Inner Harbour, saying the dated passenger terminal didn’t reflect well on WA.
“We think that this will create about $1 billion worth of investment and many thousands of jobs,” Mr McGowan told reporters on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it’s a good entry statement to WA, the way the port is now.”
The Liberal state government also wants to see the passenger terminal upgraded to accommodate more cruise ships and promises to structure its planned privatisation of Fremantle port so that happens.
KEY FACTS ABOUT THE SHIP:
* Can accomodate 5000 guests
* 1500 crew
* 2091 rooms
* 18 decks
* 168,666 tonnes
* 347m long and 41m wide