A Titanic replica? Clive, that’s a great business idea
I’m not sold on Clive Palmer’s political instincts. The mining magnate, who controls a variety of resources companies like Queensland Nickel, has a tough challenge ahead of him winning LNP preselection in the seat of Lilley which is currently held by Deputy PM Wayne Swan. Particularly since Opposition Leader Tony Abbott hit a reluctant note talking about it yesterday.
But I am sold on Palmer’s idea to build a second Titanic. Reason one: it’s an example of a billionaire actually doing something grand with their ginormous reserves of cash for once. “I don’t want to die wondering, you know, I always wondered if we could build another Titanic,” he told ABC Brisbane this morning.
Reason two: it’s an exciting and potentially viable business opportunity.
In light of the 100th anniversary this year of the unthinkable happening to the “unsinkable”, interest has been revived in the ocean liner’s tragic story.
For instance, a spokesperson for the Australian National Maritime Museum told The Punch there’s been plenty of demand for its latest Titanic exhibition: “We’ve been really surprised and delighted with the response to the exhibition,” museum spokesperson Shirani Aththas said.
And just look at the Titanic Memorial Cruiseliner. A passenger ship (that’s not a carbon copy construction of the original) is following the original liner’s exact route from Southhampton to New York with the exact same number of passengers. It launched last month to mass acclaim.
A number of sage business minds know there’s a dollar to be made in it all. James Cameron’s Titanic raked in more than a billion dollars when the film bulldozed the box office in the mid-1990s. Film bosses figured they could make even more money out of it by re-releasing it in 3D earlier this year. That assumption was correct.
Considering all this interest and money that’s already made off the back of the boat recently, I reckon Palmer’s right about there being a long-term market in a replica cruise. And while there have been a number of proposals to build a Titanic II before, Palmer’s idea actually has momentum.
Palmer explained the practicalities of the construction project this morning on ABC radio. He said that he is building four nickel carriers at a Chinese shipyard for his company’s operations in North Queensland. Economies of scale mean it’s efficient to build a passenger liner there at the same time, particularly since the Chinese shipbuilding industry are keen to jump into the passenger ship construction market.
Palmer said they’ve got technology engine- and propulsion-wise to make it fuel efficient (the boat will be diesel-powered). He says he already owns the rights to the name Titanic II.
One facet of the boat that will differ from its inspiration is that it will have a “Queensland Room” that will showcase development and investment opportunities available in the sunshine state. Typical big-noting Queenslander. Palmer’s Titanic team will also hopefully make sure the boat differs from its namesake by ensuring it is equipped with substantially more life rafts.
The Australian reported this morning that as of late yesterday there have been 2000 expressions of interest in Palmer’s maiden cruise, which he projects will launch in 2016. For their sake, let’s hope Clive’s team includes an OH&S supervisor who’s a bit of a tightarse.
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