More cruise ships

CRUISE ship visits are becoming a key tourism market for the Whitsundays, with the number of ships stopping here continuing to increase over the past three years.

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Peter O'Reilly said a further 11 ships are scheduled to visit Airlie Beach over the next six months, bringing the annual visits to 21.

“We are seeing increased numbers of ships each year, as well as increased numbers of passengers getting off the boats to explore Airlie Beach, the islands and the reef,” he said.

“The number of pre-booked tours for the Whitsundays is also greatly increasing.”

But the recent release of national and international visitor statistics from Tourism Research Australia showed room for improvement in some areas of tourism, although overall results were positive.

“The Whitsundays has continued to buck state-wide and national declines in international visitors, maintaining 2 per cent growth to the year ended March 10,” Mr O'Reilly said.

“Expenditure by international visitors also continues to increase, up by $35 million to $163 million for the year.

“While we saw a 3 per cent decline in Australian visitors, the good news is that visitor nights spent in the region has increased by 4 per cent to 1.96 million nights.”

Given the downturn in domestic visitors to the region, Tourism Whitsundays has plans in place to encourage more Australian tourists to come to the Whitsundays.

“We intend to focus on regaining share of this market,” Mr O'Reilly said.

“Tourism Whitsundays will continue to focus on increased domestic campaigns to lure more Australians from all markets here for a holiday.”

Tourism Whitsundays said it would also continue to invest in the growing international visitor markets and the cruise ship industry, which will hopefully help to sustain the Whitsundays tourism industry into the future.

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