Port Cairns (Queensland Australia) welcomed P&O Australia's Pacific Explorer over the weekend as the first international cruise ship to visit the port since the start of the COVID crisis.
Having recently operated from Port Brisbane QLD, the 2-day call was described as a “green shoot of recovery” for Far North Queensland's visitor economy.
According to the member for Cairns and assistant tourism minister Michael Healy, cruise ship arrivals supported local tourism & logistics jobs in Cairns and presented 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.
“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.”
Healy added that the Queensland government was working closely with the industry to grow the number of cruise ships visiting the ports of the state. Bookings at the Port of Cairns were running hot with 70+ cruise ships signaling their intention to follow Pacific Explorer into port before New Year.
That put the Far North’s cruise ship market on track to recover to where it had been before the crisis and delivering US$1 billion per year to the Queensland economy.
According to Tourism minister Stirling Hinchliffe, Cairns was well-prepared for the return of international cruise liners, particularly following a development project aimed at accommodating larger ships at the port. The Cairns Shipping Development Project had "expanded the shipping channel to make port access easier for large vessels like cruise ships.”
Potentially, up to 140,000 cruise 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 cruising was making "a strong comeback in 2022 with 131 cruise ships scheduled to call at QLD ports including Port Douglas, Cooktown and Thursday Island over the next six months.”