Dawn’s arrival is positive sign
THE message that the Whitsundays is “open for business” has never been clearer with the first cruise ships returning to the region.
Pacific Dawn delivered 2000 passengers to Abell Point Marina on Thursday, the first cruise ship guests to set foot on Whitsunday shores since Cyclone Debbie devastated the region.
They were among 4200 cruise ship passengers who landed on Whitsunday shores last week. Radiance of the Seas arrived on Friday and Pacific Dawn visited again on Monday.
Volunteer Cruise Ship Ambassadors co-ordinator Brian Richardson said more than 1200 passengers had booked local tours on Thursday, mostly land-based. “They were quite surprised at how clean and tidy everything was,” Mr Richardson said. “There was a lot of positive feedback out of it.”
The arrival of Pacific Dawn was expected to pump around $250,000 into the local economy while operators P&O Cruises announced it would donate $10,000 to the cyclone recovery.
Brisbane couple Kelly and Stephen Chard were among the visitors and said they were keen to check out Airlie Beach.
“It’s great to get off the boat and see some music and see that everyone wants to get back up and going again,” Kelly said.
David Jones, from cruise ship operators Carnival Australia, said as soon as the company heard Airlie Beach was cleared to visit, plans were made to return.
“Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays have pulled off a miracle to accept 2000 cruise ship visitors weeks after a massive cyclone has gone through,” Mr Jones said. “We (already) have 48 scheduled post calls to Airlie Beach across our organisation next year. That’s roughly $250,000 into the local economy each visit and around $12 million for the year next year. This is like a five-star cruise destination, you’ve got everything.”
Tourism Whitsundays chairman Al Grundy said it was exciting times for the cruise ship market.
“We’re back on our feet,” Mr Grundy said.
“Now we’re jogging and in a few weeks we’ll be running at full steam ahead.”
GRATEFUL: Whitsunday kids say "thanks" from the heart of the reef.
THEY'RE BACK: Tourism industry representatives welcome the arrival of cruise ship Pacific Dawn.