The declaration of Southport as a Customs clearance port and a $3 million dredging program have paved the way for a massive surge in superyachts visiting the Gold Coast.
Superyacht Australia predicts that by 2021 South East Queensland will have the largest superyacht industry in Australia, worth $1.128 billion annually.
Better still, the boom will create an estimated 7,947 jobs.
With more than 57 kilometres of coastline, the smooth Broadwater and 260 kilometres of navigable waterways, the Gold Coast has often been referred to, perhaps somewhat optimistically, as the Venice of Australia.
The truth is the Gold Coast has far better boating than the romantic Italian city could ever hope for and while Venice may be built on the water, the Coast is built on boats, with superyachts now joining the mix.
The new Border Force clearance facilities will be at the Southport Yacht Club which can berth boats up to 74 metres in length.
The club already has 10 berths for these floating palaces, just 15 minutes sailing from the Seaway entrance and plans on the drawing board for a further four berths to cope with the expected increase in demand.
Club General Manager Brett James says the new Customs clearance point was invaluable and a huge win for the industry.
“The new port 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 Customs clearance,” he says.
“Previously the closest Customs clearance was in Brisbane, which meant we often missed out on a lot of business.”
“We are confident that our new facility will attract larger foreign vessels to the Gold Coast to enter Australia.”
The $3 million dredging program will see 14 kilometres of the Broadwater and Coomera River deepened to allow the large vessels up river to undergo refits and maintenance work at the Gold Coast Marine Precinct, which is home to internationally known boat builders such as Riviera and Maritimo.
It is anticipated that once the dredging is finished, the river will have a depth of 3.5 metres allowing superyachts to navigate up to the marine precinct.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate says the city was investing in the necessary infrastructure to 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 says.
“With a new Customs clearance port in Southport and a dredging plan that will deepen the Coomera River, we will be able to attract even more international superyachts and other vessels to our beautiful waterways.”
“Investing in our marine industry will provide long-term economic benefits to the city and create future jobs, putting the Gold Coast way ahead.”
There are more than 40,000 registered watercraft in the city, which boasts the highest mixed use of watercraft of any Queensland centre and boating is such a huge part of the Gold Coast that 250 hectares of land alongside the Coomera River to the city’s north was dedicated to the marine industry through a special Act of State Parliament.
The Gold Coast Marine Precinct is the major marine industry area dedicated to manufacturing, servicing, repairs and refits of recreational and commercial vessels.
The precinct area holds the heaviest concentration of boat builders and marine-based industries in Australia – about 80 per cent of all boats built in the country.