Passengers from the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship disembark from transfer vessels at Abel Point Marina to enjoy a day long visit to the Whitsundays.
Passengers from the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship disembark from transfer vessels at Abel Point Marina to enjoy a day long visit to the Whitsundays.

Queen Mary 2 visits

AN otherwise quiet Sunday turned into a busy day for Whitsunday businesses with the arrival of thousands of tourists from the Queen Mary 2 in Airlie Beach today (Sunday).

However there were no complaints about having to work on a Sunday with the tourist influx generating plenty of money for the local economy.

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive officer Peter O’Reilly said the tourists were expected to spend big when visiting the Whitsundays.

“The research shows that it is about $200 per person for a cruise visit in terms of expenditure which is a huge benefit to the local economy,” he said.

Visitors spent yesterday doing a range of activities around the Whitsundays including shopping, snorkeling and sailing.

Around 800 people visited the Great Barrier Reef during the one day visit.

Mr O’Reilly said the one day stopover provided a taste of the Whitsundays that would hopefully leave visitors wanting more.

“They get a one day look at the Whitsundays and hopefully it means we get a significant number coming back,” he said.

“It is a lot like a low flight over the area, you get to sail past the islands and get a good look at the whole area.

“It is a great opportunity to showcase the Whitsundays.”

One couple who have already vowed to return is John and Jill Howard from Southampton in England. This is the couple’s first trip to Australia but Mr Howard said he hoped to return to the Whitsundays in 2011.

“I would love to come back,” he said.

“It is definitely on the list.”

The thousands of passengers to embark in Airlie Beach on Sunday morning were greeted by 28 volunteers from the Whitsundays cruise ship ambassador program.

The volunteers act as information guides helping visitors find their way around town.

Airlie Beach was the only Australian stop on this leg for the Queen Mary 2 and it is the largest cruise ship ever to visit Australia.


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