Singaporean company Sembawang has withdrawn their bid to develop the controversial Gold Coast cruise terminal following an announcement by Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate indicating that the development would not incorporate a casino.
In a statement to ABC News on the weekend, Sembawang chief Ric Grosvenor said that the council knew from the outset that the Wavebreak project his company had expressed an interest in required a casino in order for it to be viable.
“I got hit in the face with this yesterday via a press release,” Mr Grosvenor said to the ABC.
“It would appear that Sembawang is being used as a stalking horse for some pot of gold in the tender process.
“Well we’ve got a completed projects portfolio of over 500 projects around the world and we underwrite these things and know what we’re about, so good luck to anyone else who is speaking to the mayor along those lines.”
Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter spoke to ABC Radio and expressed his disappointment at the withdrawal but said that he expected many hurdles in a project of such magnitude.
“I think it’s a pity that one of the projects is now not in the race but this is a huge project and there were going to be a lot of hurdles along the way.”
The AUD$4.8 billion development has also fired up surfers and the local community who are banding together to oppose the project.
Two-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning has weighed in on the debate, joining community group ‘Save our Spit’.
Mr Fanning told The Gold Coast Bulletin that he believes the cruise ship terminal would kill wildlife, destroy the Gold Coast lifestyle and ruin local breaks which would negatively impact the city’s AUD$3 billion surfing industry.
Save Our Spit alliance boss Steven Gration has expressed his delight at Mr Fanning joining their cause but the Gold Coast Bulletin reported that he is yet to contact the surfer.
“The terminal potentially negates or destroys South Straddie as a surf break,” Mr Gration said.
“It would have a huge impact on the image of the Gold Coast as a desirable place for people to have a beachside holiday.”
Mayor Tate responded that he was not concerned by Mr Fanning’s comments.
“He’s a good surfer, but I tend to listen to people with qualifications and information to add,” Mayor Tate told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“Every Mick Fanning that comes out I can find a high-profile surfer to say it’s a fantastic idea.”
Whilst Save Our Spit may not condone the cruise terminal development, they have made it clear that they support the push for growth in the Gold Coast tourism sector.
Save Our Spit vice president Kate Mathews told e-Travel Blackboard in August that they would like the Gold Coast City Council to look at the options available for local tourism operators to leverage off the cruise ship visitors calling into Brisbane instead.
“Only 15 per cent of the Brisbane on-shore excursion market has been captured by the Gold Coast.
“We believe this represents a real and tangible opportunity for Coast tourism operators to attract Brisbane ship visitors in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to our local economy, but without the extraordinary social, environmental and economic costs associated with attempting to put a ship terminal within the Broadwater or offshore.
“It’s the ultimate win: win.”
e-Travel Blackboard was awaiting response from Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry and Royal Caribbean managing director Gavin Smith at the time of publishing.