Cruise ships to help boost tourism

THREE cruise ships will call at Airlie Beach before the end of March and Tourism Whitsundays is hoping those onboard will splash some much needed tourism cash around the region.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa is expected to bring its 408 passengers to the Whitsundays on February 10. P&O’s Arcadia, which can carry a total of 2388 passengers, is scheduled to arrive hot on its heels on February 17, while Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess, which can accommodate 1950 passengers, will be there on March 8.

But it’s not just around-the-world cruise liners that are bringing thousands of visitors to Airlie Beach. Tourism Whitsundays marketing services manager Danielle Seymour said the increased number of Australian cruise ships this year was expected to generate much needed tourism spending in the region.

“We had 21 ships come through in 2010 and this year we are getting 14 in six months, which is definitely an increase,” she said.

Although most of the cruise ships stop in Airlie Beach for just one day, Ms Seymour expects holiday-makers will spend money in the town or on the islands.

“P&O cruises had figures to say that each passenger spends around $80 in each town and some cruise ships have around 2500 passengers on each boat, so that is a pretty good injection into the region,” she said.

“It’s a huge benefit to the economy.”

Ms Seymour said Tourism Whitsundays always ensured visitors were properly welcomed to the region.

“We give an awesome welcome to every person that comes off the boat.”

“They get a map and are able to explore Airlie Beach for the day or organise tours out to the reef,” she said.

“They generally arrive around 8 in the morning and spend the day in Airlie Beach before boarding the ship again around 4pm or 5pm and then they are off again.”

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