Wildlife experiences and island life are proving popular with tourists as Townsville (Queensland, Australia) carves out a niche in competitive cruising market.
Seabourn Encore, the 2nd cruise ship of the season, will dock at Port of Townsville on Saturday morning, with 604 passengers and 450 crew spending the day in the city.
The visit is expected to come with a $132,000 boost to the local economy.
Billabong Sanctuary owner Bob Flemming said the park experienced its highest numbers ever from a cruise ship earlier this month when 170 passengers from the Seven Seas Voyager chose to visit.
“Billabong Sanctuary does well with these international ships as at their previous port of Cairns. Passengers I spoke to tend to go to the reef, leaving their wildlife experience to either Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville or Bungalow Bay Koala Village on Magnetic Island,” he said.
“At the moment we have got 60 (passengers) coming but that’s probably going to double during the week.”
Port corporate affairs manager Sharon Hoops said Magnetic Island visits and different regional tours were increasingly popular with passengers.
“Charters Towers did well out of the last visit. About 100 people went out and there was a civic reception held,” she said.
Another three cruise ships will visit in February, culminating with the Magellan on February 28, carrying 1450 passengers and 660 crew.
Ms Hoops said the port was excited to welcome ships during a normally quiet time for tourism, with the Magellan a significant milestone.
“It’s our biggest cruise ship in a long time, if not ever,” she said.
Townsville Enterprise tourism and events manager Bridget Woods said Townsville had worked on providing unique tour offerings to cruise passengers and it was paying off.
“Magnetic Island, Mungalla Station, Hidden Valley and Billabong Sanctuary tours are always popular,” she said.
“We are looking to expand what we offer even further.”