Julie O’Brien, Tourism and Events Queensland says that cruise visitors and others head to Queensland for its natural wonders and wildlife but they are also coming to interact with locals. ‘So are we meeting their expectations?’ O’Brien says the state is working to make sure it has the infrastructure to enable cruise tourism to grow. ‘We’re working with volunteer groups and others to ensure this.’ She says a new cruise centre at Luggage Point Brisbane will be a game changer for the industry. Expected to be finished late next year / early 2020, the A$100 million cruise ship centre will take larger ships and allow cruise visitors to reach the Sunshine Coast in 45 minutes, the Gold Coast in 60. ‘It will be a gateway to the Pacific Islands as well as the northern part of the state,’ O’Brien adds.
However, she points out Queensland has some 14 cruise locations. She says Cairns and Port Douglas are working hard to expand indigenous experiences, while there are also new walking and biking tours available. ‘And a lot of ships have brochured the new Cairns Aquarium. It follows the journey of a raindrop from Daintree Forest and moves down through the estuaries and out to the reef.’ O’Brien says Townsville is the ‘surprise package’ of North Queensland. ‘We have 16 ships booked in this season and a few years ago we only had five or six ships. Magnetic Island is a real attraction here – it is rare that you would go the island and not see a koala in the trees. But Townsville also has the outback right on its doorstep – within an hour you can be having an authentic station experience.’