Cruise ships contribute millions to the Whitsunday economy each year.
Cruise ships contribute millions to the Whitsunday economy each year. Warren Lynam

How much cruise ships really contribute to our economy

SMILE and say g'day if you see a cruise ship passenger wandering around Airlie Beach in the coming weeks.

The cruise ship industry in the Whitsundays is significant, with 55 cruise ships docking in Pioneer Bay in the 2018-19 financial year, bringing about 100,000 visitors to the region, according to figures from the Volunteer Cruise Ship Ambassadors.

During December, nine cruise ships are visiting our region, bringing thousands of visitors to Airlie Beach, spending their hard-earned holiday dollars in the lead-up to Christmas.

A lot of passengers go on tours on the water - including snorkelling or diving trips to the Great Barrier Reef and visits to world famous Whitehaven Beach - while many prefer to amble around town, enjoying the shops, cafes, restaurants, foreshore and lagoon.

Cruise ship passengers disembarking for the day can also experience a number of land-based experiences and many visitors like to pick up some souvenirs at the Airlie Beach foreshore markets, which are on every time a cruise ship is in port, or the shops.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler said cruise ship passengers constantly rated Airlie Beach as one of their favourite ports, thanks to it being a stunning destination and the outstanding work put in by the Volunteer Cruise Ship Ambassadors. 

"With 55 cruise ships visiting last year, and visitors spending an estimated $10-$15m, this has a significant impact on our regional economy,” she said.

"The benefit spreads throughout the whole region because the dollars spent in Airlie Beach then disseminate out through other towns when the local businesses spend them on supplies, wages and so on.”

Since the Volunteer Cruise Ship Ambassadors started meeting and greeting passengers 15 years ago, 453 cruise ships have disembarked 660,000 passengers and crew, of which about 100,000 have gone on tours.

The Tourism Whitsundays website has pointers on things to consider to help increase your business on cruise ship day - visit https://www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au/see-do/cruise-ships - and cruise ship alerts are on their Facebook page.

"There is a whole raft of things businesses can do to become irresistible to cruise passengers,” Mrs Wheeler said.

"Cruise companies will consider a number of factors when selecting a port for an itinerary, including things like 'passenger appeal', 'safe, friendly atmosphere' and 'community appetite', so it really is important that we show our best, most welcoming side.”

If you have a tour or product you think could be part of the shore excursion schedule for cruise ships, Tourism Whitsundays can help you make the right connections with the Inbound Tour Operators.

Email donna.vanthoff@tourismwhitsundays.com.au


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