Coral Expeditions and the National Roads and Motorists Association Limited (NRMA), Australia’s largest member organization with significant investments and operations in the Australian tourism sector, have announced a new investment agreement that will see NRMA take a significant minority stake in Coral Expeditions, according to a press release.
This investment will support Coral Expeditions in growing its operational footprint into the future.
The news comes as Coral has seen its successful resumption of operations following a six month hiatus due to the global pandemic.
The company’s new vessel, Coral Geographer will debut in March 2021 just in time for the Kimberley season. In the current environment, the company is focused on meeting surging domestic demand, with its Australian-flagged and crewed ships exploring the Australian coastline while complying with relevant health regulations.
The “Small Islands of the World” series of international voyages will resume later in 2022, the company said, in a press release.
Coral Expeditions Executive Director Paul Chacko commented: “We began discussions with NRMA last year and were struck by the fit between both organizations. Both have long-term planning horizons, a guest and member-focused culture, and significant customer demographic overlap. The current shareholders of Coral Expeditions have supported the transition to a new Bluewater fleet over the past 6 years. This new partnership will allow Coral Expeditions to benefit from NRMA’s expertise while continuing its journey to tap strong long-term demand for expedition cruising.”
Group General Manager Mark Fifield welcomed NRMA as a shareholder: “For 35 years, Coral Expeditions has pioneered expedition cruising to the most remote natural habitats in Australia. This partnership will enable our team in Cairns to continue our vision to deliver remarkable experiences to our strong base of Australian guests.”
Rachel Wiseman, Chief Investment Officer NRMA commented: “Over the past four years NRMA has been focused on finding more ways for Australians to experience the rich natural environment in which we live and believes that expedition tourism is one of best ways to do it. Coral Expeditions is an Australian flagged expedition cruising business offering Australians an opportunity to safely discover their region, through a small group, premium experience. We are excited for the opportunity this provides for our members and Australians more broadly to enjoy the incredible experiences Coral offers. There has never been a time when Australian domestic tourism has been more important. This investment will help facilitate and grow the services and experiences Coral Expeditions offer and we look forward to the time when it re-opens for international visitors to enjoy.”
According to a press release, the management team and organizational structure of Coral Expeditions will remain unchanged with the company’s independent operations continuing from its base in Cairns, Australia. There will be no impact on the company’s existing trade and other business arrangements.