(Australian Associated Press)
The world’s rich and famous are being encouraged to bring their floating palaces to the Gold Coast to use as a base while they watch the 2018 Commonwealth Games sporting action.
The local marine industry, which combined to form a group to push the city as an ideal superyacht base, achieved one of its aims in June this year when the federal government declared the Gold Coast as a Customs and Immigration clearance port for vessels entering Australia.
Previously, the nearest immigration clearance port was Brisbane.
The next step is a superyacht rendezvous planned for April 20-22, just after the Games closing ceremony on April 15.
The Australian Superyacht Rendezvous, backed by the Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard, the Gold Coast City Council and other industry heavyweights, will be the second time a rendezvous has been held.
The first, in April this year, attracted superyachts worth $150 million, with the owners and crews taking part in a series of events and functions.
A $3 million dredging program to deepen channels in the Broadwater and up the Coomera River to the Gold Coast City Marine Precinct means superyacht owners will also be able to have maintenance work or refits carried out on their vessels while they are there.
The Southport Yacht Club is extending its superyacht berths to 14 to cater for the fleet of vessels expected in during the Games.
Boats up to 74 metres can tie up at the club, just 15 minutes sailing from the Gold Coast Seaway entrance.
A further 50 floating palaces can be moored at the Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard at Coomera.
The marina’s chief executive Trenton Gay said the area has Australia’s largest concentration of marine trades.
“So it makes sense that we continue to see this important event staged here to boost the vitality of our industry and raise the region’s profile, both nationally and internationally, as a superyacht hotspot,” he said.
Superyacht Australia (www.superyacht-australia.com/) predicts that by 2021 south-east Queensland will have the largest superyacht industry in Australia, worth $1.128 billion annually.
The boom is tipped to create an estimated 7947 full-time jobs in the region’s marine industry and allied businesses.
The area has more than 57 kilometres of coastline, a huge smooth water area known as The Broadwater and 260 kilometres of navigable waterways.
Southport Yacht Club general manager Brett James said the new Customs clearance point was an invaluable win for the industry.
“It is revolutionising the marine sector and will mean foreign superyachts and other vessels will now be able to sail directly into the Gold Coast Seaway for clearance,” he said.
“Previously the closest Customs clearance was in Brisbane, which meant we often missed out on a lot of business.”
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the city was building infrastructure such as roads to help meet the predicted growth.
“The City of Gold Coast is actively supporting the local marine sector to best capture economic growth opportunities and position the city as the default superyacht location in Australia,” he said.
“Investing in our marine industry will provide long-term economic benefits to the city and create future jobs.”
There are more than 40,000 watercraft registered in the city which boasts the highest mixed use of watercraft of any Queensland centre.
AAP, in collaboration with the City of Gold Coast and Gold Coast Tourism, is publishing a range of newsworthy content in the lead-up to the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.