Updated: Jul 17, 2022
Many are not aware of the fact, but Airlie Beach has been a popular destination at which large passenger cruise liners moor on their way north (to Cairns for e.g.) or south (Brisbane & beyond). Typically the passengers are brought to Abel Point Marina and then shuttled to the main street shopping area and the outdoor market (near Airlie Beach Yacht Club). Alternately, some passengers elect to go on seaplane rides to the reef/islands or on high-speed open boat trips, for example.
Adam Webster from local real estate agency Ray White issued some interesting information about the local cruise ship market in March 2020:
"Cruise ship numbers are gaining momentum. The Whitsundays has seen incredible growth in the cruise ship market over the past two years, with numbers continuing to rise. In March, The Whitsundays will see 14 ships to dock in The Whitsundays with the potential to bring over 20,000 visitors. Tourism Whitsundays, in conjunction with the Whitsunday Regional Council, see a massive benefit in the Cruise Ship Program.
Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer Tash Wheeler said it's clear to see why the Cruise Ship segment is such an important market for The Whitsundays. "We've been closely working with the Whitsunday Regional Council on the cruise ship program for some time now; the cruise ships provide vital numbers to our region, especially during these quieter months. To see that March has the potential to welcome over 20,000 visitors is going to really help local businesses at such a critical time for our industry. The Whitsundays has welcomed more than 80,000 guests to our region via cruise ships so far during this financial year; we believe 2019-2020 will be a record number for cruise ship visitation."
Cruise ship visitation is the greatest advertising tool we have; when cruise ship guests dock in The Whitsundays, they get a taste of the incredible scenery and products we have. Anecdotal research shows a high number of those visitors return for a more extended period to time," she said. The Cruise Ship program would not be possible without the loyal, dedicated, and hard-working Volunteer Cruise Ship Ambassadors who are passionate about promoting The Whitsundays and welcome each guest to the region with a warm Whitsundays smile.
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said he was proud that his Council had worked collaboratively with Tash Wheeler, and the team at Tourism Whitsundays, to ensure the continued growth and development of our Cruise Ship Program. "It's so exciting that all the hard work is really starting to pay dividends for the Whitsunday tourism sector as they have had more than their share of setbacks in recent years," he said. "Tourism is a major job creator in the Whitsunday region and currently directly employs over 3000 people, so the positive March cruise ship numbers are an excellent boost for our operators and stakeholders."
"Cruise ship statistics show that the average cruise ship passenger spends over $150 during an onshore excursion so with 1000 passengers per boat, and currently over 70 cruise ships visiting our shores annually, that is over $10 million being injected directly into our local economy. It is vitally important we continue to grow our share of the cruise ship market to provide economic stimulus for the whole Whitsunday region," Mayor Willcox said. "That is why the $6.3 million Airlie Beach Foreshore Revitalisation Project, which created a stunning multi-purpose area for tourists and residents, was so important for the continued growth of cruise tourism ..."