Helicopter pad, fast-cat boat on the radar for East Shores
GLADSTONE'S boat may have come in ... literally.
The arrival of the Pacific Eden cruise liner to Gladstone yesterday was the seventh such visit this year and a sign of things to come according to tourism and government leaders.
More than 1500 passengers disembarked yesterday. Nine shuttle buses were kept busy showing visitors around town, several coaches headed out to destinations such as Agnes Water, helicopters flew out over the islands and the East Shore markets buzzed.
The visit was vindication for the work many people had been putting in to attracting these cruise liners, according to Gladstone Area Promotion Development Limited (GAPDL) tourism and business development officer Karen Sweeney said.
"It's about giving people the best possible experience so we can grow the itinerary and the opportunities available," she said.
Ms Sweeney has had talks with cruise liner operators and the continuation of the boat visits largely depends on the passengers' experience.
"There was only going to be three boats coming this year and now we've had seven," Ms Sweeney said.
"But we can't rest, we've got to give it our best shot every time they come, ultimately it is the passengers who decide where they want to stop after they leave Sydney."
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher was just as bullish about the potential for growth from the ships' visits.
The proposed cruise ship terminal and stage two of the East Shores development, which will see shops and an amphitheatre added to the area, is seen as a big help to keep attracting the boats. Further down the track a helicopter pad and regular fast-cat boat services out to the islands are more innovations on the radar.
"We've got everything visitors can need up here, we've got the pristine southern Great Barrier reef waters, a great East Shores precinct and there could be more development and promotion of other areas of our city," Mr Butcher said.
"It's a no-brainer for our city to attract more people up here."
Mr Butcher can see even further spin-offs. With these ships leaving from Sydney and carrying mostly Australian tourists, he can see the visit leading to more people packing up their Sydney homes and moving to Gladstone. "The people living in West Sydney can now get a million dollars for the family home," Mr Butcher said.
"They'll see they could sell their house in Sydney, buy a beautiful house here in Gladstone for $400,000 and put the rest of the money in the bank and live here in comfort in semi-retirement."
Officials from Tourism Events Queensland have also been in town this week and, according to Ms Sweeney, have confirmed Gladstone has passed the novelty stage of the ship visits and has a sustainable product. The next ship will be the Pacific Jewel on January 4 next year, with the 3500-berth Carnival Spirit pencilled in for a June visit in 2018.