The opening of a new customs clearance port on the Gold Coast has paved the way to drive growth in Australia’s superyacht and tourism industries.

The new port, which opened mid-last year at Southport, means foreign superyachts and other international vessels are now able to sail directly into the Gold Coast Seaway for customs clearance. Until last year, superyachts had to clear customs elsewhere, meaning the Gold Coast often missed out on the lucrative superyacht market.

Mark Riddell, Southport Yacht Club waterfront manager, says the club has had around 35 boats clear into the Gold Coast. “The Border Force station at Southport Yacht Club has made a tremendous difference to the Gold Coast,” he says.

The new port was originally proposed to encourage more yachts to visit the Commonwealth Games, which are being held on the Gold Coast in a couple of months.

The decision to include the Southport Yacht Club on the list of approved international arrival points is the result of continuous lobbying by Superyacht Australia, government representatives and marine industry stalwarts. At this stage, the message that this facility is available is being continuously promoted to the global superyacht fleet to confirm that international vessels are welcomed to the Gold Coast.

If the much-needed changes to the charter regulations for foreign-flagged vessels come into force, there will certainly be an increase in the number of superyachts clearing in on the Gold Coast. Given that foreign-flagged vessels make their cruising plans years in advance, it will take at least 12-18 months to see the effects of this additional port of entry.

Events like the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, and the Australian Superyacht Rendezvous being held in April at the Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard certainly help put a strong spotlight on the region.

Superyachts coming into the Gold Coast will generate a large economic benefit for the region. Research done last year shows that the spend of a large superyacht can match that of a 2,000-guest cruise ship. More superyachts will mean more highly-skilled jobs for locals, as many of these vessels will stay to have maintenance, refits and other work undertaken. The closest facility to Southport, which has been an established customs clearance facility for many years, is located at Rivergate Marina and Shipyard in Brisbane.

With regards to the Commonwealth Games being held from April 4-15, 2018, Superyacht Queensland has developed a fact sheet for visiting superyachts. An influx of superyachts is expected for the Games, with many Australian superyacht owners taking advantage of this opportunity to cruise north to enjoy Queensland’s hospitality and weather.

The fact sheet provides information on the Games themselves, regulations regarding entering Australia, customs clearing ports, berthing availability, refit and repair facilities in the region, information regarding access to the Great Barrier Reef, and cruising itineraries to make the most of being in this part of the world. Contact details are included for the key superyacht agents in the region who can assist with any queries, visas, provisioning etc. that vessels may require.

Cameron Bray, chair of Superyacht Queensland, comments: “This is the biggest tourism event for Queensland this decade and we are already seeing the detailed preparation and excitement building on the Gold Coast. There are also events in Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville and we are seeing visiting superyachts planning to travel up the northeast Queensland coast. It is fantastic that the government has designated the Gold Coast as a port of entry to facilitate vessels coming in for this event.”