QUESTION: Cruise Ship Landing Fees

During Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment whether he supports the council or other authority charging disembarkation or landing fees for cruise ship passengers visiting Kangaroo Island

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: Cruise ship visits to Kangaroo Island have increased significantly in recent years, growing from single digits three years ago to 19 last financial year and 28 this financial year. Generally, the large ships anchor offshore with passengers ferried into the wharf by a shuttle service of ships' tenders.

According to Tourism Kangaroo Island chairman, Pierre Gregor, quoted in The Islander newspaper earlier this year, currently cruise ships visiting Kangaroo Island do not pay a landing or disembarkation fee; however, the Tourism Kangaroo Island board thinks that they should. According to TKI, based on current visitation figures, this could conservatively bring in at least $150,000 to $200,000 per year, depending on the pricing regime adopted. According to Mr Gregor:

Most other cruise ship ports, where the passengers disembark while the ship is alongside a wharf or pier or utilise transfers by ships' tenders, extract a fee from cruise ships. Kangaroo Island should be no different.

In contrast, if you want to launch a dinghy or another small boat from a council facility such as a boat ramp at, say, Christmas Cove or American River or Bay of Shoals, you have to pay $10 a day or $150 per year. But if you arrive and depart in a very big boat with several hundred other people, you don't get charged a cent.

My question of the minister is:

Does the minister support the council or other authority charging disembarkation or landing fees for cruise ship passengers visiting Kangaroo Island?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment): I thank the honourable member for his question and his ongoing interest in Kangaroo Island, especially. He is right: we have seen a significant increase in cruise ships coming to South Australia. It is a great part of our tourism offering the fact that we have that wonderful natural beauty in a range of ports right around South Australia where these cruise ships arrive. Kangaroo Island is one where we use tenders, as the honourable member mentioned.

We use tenders to bring them into the terminal at Penneshaw. Of course, the government paid for those particular tenders, I think, when the members opposite were in government. That is when that investment was made, to allow those tenders to come in. It may have been in partnership with Sealink—I don't remember the exact relationship between the two as to the actual funding, but certainly it was done and completed with the previous government.

The member is correct that the cruise ships don't pay any landing fee there. I have spoken to Mr Gregor on a number of occasions. It is an issue that TKI has raised with me. The South Australian Tourism Commission is always looking at ways that we can make sure that the visitor experience is good and that the community benefits. My understanding is the SATC does provide quite a service on that particular island as well and I know there are some other services provided.

It is something that, as I said, is an ongoing discussion around how we might look at ways to make the visitor experience better for the community and better for the visitors. What we want is for people to get onto TripAdvisor, go onto social media and say what a wonderful time they have had, and use their social media to promote South Australia. Certainly, we want to make sure we keep getting record numbers of cruise ships. We have had record seasons. I expect I will be standing up in this place at the end of the next couple of years and seasons talking about the great record.

While I am not going to be drawn into whether I support or don't support particular fees, I can tell the honourable member that the SATC has been in conversations with TKI around what we might do in relation to those particular opportunities, having the number of cruise vessels coming to Kangaroo Island. As I said, the facilities that are being used are facilities that were put there during the former government. They come into the Penneshaw passenger terminal, and the cruise ships moor offshore. I won't be drawn into whether we are looking to charge fees, but I know it is something that is on the radar of the South Australian Tourism Commission and I am sure those discussions will continue.