Cruise to Mackay in 2020-21?
CRUISE ships with thousands of tourists on board could be docking in Mackay in the 2020/21 season.
That's the vision of Tourism and Events Queensland, which has been lobbying cruise operators for the past 18 months to have Mackay included in cruise ship itineraries.
"Mackay's large port facilities are well established and suitable to host a variety of cruise lines, and the region offers genuinely unique tourism experiences like wallabies on the beach at sunrise," Tourism and Events Queensland group executive corporate services Nick Elliot said.
But, he explained, the process of establishing a new destination port could be long.
"Lead times and itinerary planning for established ports is currently being undertaken for the 2020-21 season," he said.
Greater Whitsunday economic development group GW3 chief executive officer Garry Scanlan confirmed discussions between North Queensland Bulk Ports, Tourism Mackay and Tourism and Events Queensland about increasing cruise ship calls across the region and specifically introducing cruise ships back into the Port of Mackay.
"Cruise ship calls inject a significant amount of direct spend into the region and also are a floating billboard for the region," he said.
"Cruise companies are interested in expanding the rapidly growing 'generational cruising' sector into regional ports.
"That is the extended family on a short cruise in regional Queensland. That is a great entry market for Mackay to chase."
A North Queensland Bulk Ports spokesperson said the Port of Mackay would welcome any cruise ships.
"We have been working with Mackay Tourism to ensure potential proponents know Mackay's port is ready, willing and able to welcome cruise ships," the spokesperson said.
The enthusiasm to attract a small part of the $1.1billion industry is warranted after the success of cruise ship tourism at Queensland port - Gladstone.
It took Gladstone three years to secure its first ships, Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited chief executive officer Darryl Branthwaite said. He said 90 per cent of the 2000 cruise liner passengers disembarked each time, spending on average $297. On those numbers more than $8million has been injected into the local community.
"(The cruise companies) like us because they know more people get off the ship when they can just walk off and then they do land based activities," he said. "But there is a lot of things that have to fall in to place for it to really make it work."
Mackay Tourism chief executive officer Tas Webber said: "It takes a lot more than just saying we're open to them coming here... all the itineraries for 2020-21 has already been locked in," he said. "There is a lot we do need to do to get tours locked in, the timing has to be right, we have to get a berth at the port, make sure the tides are right."