CRUISE ON IN….
INTERNATIONAL VISITORS TO THE SUNSHINE COAST HAVE INCREASED BY 8.2 PER CENT , EXCEEDING THE AUSTRALIAN GROWTH FIGURE OF 7.1 PER CENT, AND THEY ARE COMING BY PLANE, ROAD AND BOAT, NAMELY LUXURY CRUISE SHIPS
Ilove cruising. I only discovered this in recent years when we went on a cruise with very dear friends who are cruising veterans, having been on nearly 30 different cruises, all over the world, in the past 25 years. I was always a bit nervous at the thought of cruising – after all, it’s not like you can get off easily if you decide it’s not for you. Thankfully, we loved it. We loved the fact that you can wake up in a new port every few days. We loved experiencing diverse cultures and scenery, and we loved that you are taken to places you may not otherwise have ever visited. There is always something (or nothing) to do and children are very well catered for (tip – get them into kids/teens club on the very first day when friendships are formed). Cruising is a wonderful way to just switch off, put the phone away and just enjoy the company you are travelling with. You also soon appreciate the value of a cruise ship on a local economy. Cruise ships bring significant revenue into what are quite often, very small and remote islands. In the South Pacific, there are often no ports, but the ship drops anchor in the morning and you are taken ashore by tender in a very orderly fashion to swim, shop, or sightsee. The locals are always friendly and welcoming and understand the cruise ships play a vital role in their livelihood. While we don’t depend on cruise ships for our survival – they still play an important and welcome role in our economy. It is a significant achievement that we have been able to have cruise lines commit to including the Sunshine Coast as one of their destinations. In fact, according to the Sunshine Coast Council, “more than 18 cruise ships will stop at the Sunshine Coast between June 2016 and late 2017. Each floating island visit is expected to inject more than $250,000 into the local economy”. In 2018, we are expected to welcome 18 cruises and eight different ships. We are being incredibly successful at enticing people to visit us and they are coming by boat, plane and road. The latest International Visitor Survey, statistics released by Tourism Research Australia, has the Sunshine Coast international visitor growth at 8.2 per cent which exceeded the Australian growth figure of 7.1 per cent. In addition, we were also higher than other Queensland destinations such as the Gold Coast which recorded growth of 4.2 per cent and Brisbane at 4.6 per cent. This is great news all round for the Sunshine Coast, and with the amazing weather we are currently experiencing, hopefully this will be a bumper summer for our retailers, dining and accommodation providers. However, we need to remember we all have a role to play in ensuring the visitor experience is outstanding from start to finish by providing exceptional, friendly service every single time. A wonderful experience is a surefire way of having our visitors spread the word about this awesome region we are all lucky to call home.
CRUISE SHIP: P&O's Pacific Jewel anchors off Mooloolaba.