PORT of Cairns welcomed Pacific Explorer over the weekend as its first international cruise ship to visit since the start of the pandemic.
Having recently sailed from Port of Brisbane, the vessel’s two-day visit was described as a “green shoot of recovery” for the visitor economy in Far North Queensland.
Member for Cairns and assistant tourism minister Michael Healy said cruise ship arrivals support local tourism and logistics jobs in Cairns, and present opportunities for local growers.
“With more ports and anchorages, great winter weather and more world-class onshore visitor experiences than any other state, Queensland is staking its place as Australia’s cruise ship capital,” he said.
“We know from experiences overseas since the pandemic, cruise ships are more focused on buying locally in ports of call and adding more local flavours to onboard menus.
“For regions like the Far North that means more opportunity to supply locally grown fresh tropical fruit, vegetables, and meat, in addition to fuel and other cruise ship provisions.”
Mr Healy said the Queensland government is working closely with the cruise industry to growth the number of cruise ships visiting the state’s ports.
“I’m told bookings at the Port of Cairns are running hot with more than 70 cruise ships signalling their intention to follow the Pacific Explorer into port before New Year,” he said.
“It puts the Far North’s cruise ship market on track to recover to where it was before the pandemic and delivering $1 billion every year to the Queensland economy.”
Tourism minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Cairns is well-prepared for the return of international cruise liners, particularly following a development project aimed at accomodating larger vessels at the port.
“The Cairns Shipping Development Project has expanded the shipping channel to make port access easier for large vessels like cruise ships,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“It puts Cairns in the pilots’ seat to grow cruise ship tourism and help fast-track the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
“Potentially, up to 140,000 passengers could be disembarking from the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal in coming months for onshore tours and world-class visitor experiences.”
Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said there is a strong outlook for cruise activity along the Queensland coast.
“Cruising is making a strong comeback in 2022 with 131 cruise ships scheduled to call at Tropical North Queensland ports including Port Douglas, Cooktown and Thursday Island over the next six months,” he said.