The Port of Broome is set for a tourism boost as dredging works begin, allowing round-the-clock access for future cruise ships.
Dredging is expected to run for two weeks, and will have minimal environmental impacts.
The $15.3 million channel optimisation program will allow 24-hour access for cruise ships, which currently need to berth at irregular hours due to navigational hazards.
Ports Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, said Broome is one of Western Australia’s top destinations, but challenging tidal conditions and the rock mass in the entry channel have made it difficult for cruise ships to access the port at all tides.
“We want to make sure Broome is open for this lucrative business at all times and tides; providing benefit for retail and tourism businesses in the region,” Ms MacTieran said.
“Dredging will finish in time for the arrival of the first cruise ship in mid-October.
“As a bonus, the dredging equipment was sent to the Port of Broome directly after completing work at Port Hedland, significantly reducing mobilisation costs.”
The dredging equipment has already completed the final stage of the Channel Risk and Optimisation Project (CROP) at the Port of Port Hedland.
The CROP improves trade capacity by increasing channel depth and extending sailing windows, allowing port users to optimise tonnage on their vessels.
Coordination between Pilbara Ports Authority and Kimberley Ports Authority has reduced overall project costs for the Broome project, with the cutter suction dredge starting its journey in Port Hedland rather than from outside Australia.
Tourism Minister, Paul Papalia, said the lack of 24-hour port access for larger cruise ships has halted the potential for cruise tourism in Broome.
“Without this barrier, major cruise lines can spend longer in port and guests can enjoy more time ashore discovering the region’s many attractions including ancient dinosaur footprints, sunset camel rides and indigenous cultural experiences,” Mr Papalia said.
“It’s this increased time ashore that will be a real game changer for the local tourism industry as cruise ship guests spend their money supporting local businesses from restaurants to tour operators.
“I congratulate all involved in reaching this major milestone and look forward to welcoming the first of the many larger cruise ships to arrive in Broome during the 2019-20 cruise ship season.”