The Sunshine Coast cruise ship season will be stronger than ever next year with Asia’s newest luxury liner – Explorer Dream – confirming six visits worth an estimated $2.9 million to the local economy in 2019.
Originally branded Superstar Virgo, the ship will undergo a $30 million dollar refit, converting it to a premium luxury vessel under the brand Dream Cruises, before it makes its first visit to the Sunshine Coast, docking off Mooloolaba, in October next year.
The news of the addition to the Coast’s visiting cruise ship fleet comes on top of a very successful 2018 season which has added more than a million dollars to the local economy.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Sunshine Coast was seeing unprecedented interest from the cruise sector and the international tourism market.
“Cruise ships are a real winner for our region and adding to the significant growth we are experiencing in international tourism,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The Explorer Dream will provide a steady stream of new tourists to our Sunshine Coast with more than 10,000 travellers, predominantly from the Chinese market, expected to come ashore from it alone in October, November and December.
“It was only four years ago that the first cruise ship docked in Mooloolaba. Now, in 2018, we’ve welcomed five international cruise ships with two more – Amsterdam and Seven Seas Mariner – scheduled for November and December.
“For 2019, we have a record 13 cruise ship visits on our calendar, from January through to December.
“Latest Tourism and Events Queensland research shows cruise ship guests to the Sunshine Coast spend an average of $269 per day so each visit, with around 1800 passengers, injects just under half a million dollars in the local economy.
“The positive impacts from previous visits have been felt throughout the region including in our Hinterland communities.
“I know from talking to our guests when they come ashore that they love having the chance to visit us in this way and they take away great memories which often lead to future holidays.
“For the Sunshine Coast, tourism expenditure in the past year reached $2.4 billion and this is set to rise with these additional ships confirmed to visit the region.
“We can also look forward to our Sunshine Coast Airport expansion, which is set for completion in Christmas 2020, providing another huge boost for our tourism sector.”
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said the Explorer Dream would deliver positive growth both in the short and long term.
“Building on our growing reputation as a popular destination for cruise ships, we are delighted to be working collectively with Tourism and Events Queensland, Sunshine Coast Council and our tourism industry to attract and welcome the Explorer Dream to our shores,” said Mr Latchford said.
“As a bonus, each of the six scheduled visits announced for 2019 is due to arrive mid-week, boosting what can be traditionally quieter periods for our tourism industry.
“There’s no doubt our swift growth in the cruise market can be attributed to our region’s attractive beachside culture, local food, nature, attractions and the warm Sunshine Coast welcome from our friendly Visitor Centre volunteers and tourism operators.”
“The Explorer Dream is one of Asia’s newest luxury liners operating out of Singapore and Hong Kong.
“It is no coincidence our Director of International Marketing is also based in South East Asia and aligning with campaigns we have in-market, these visits will provide greater awareness of the region in these emerging tourism markets.
“There is no doubt, securing and hosting the annual Australian Cruise Association’s annual Conference last year has assisted in continuing to showcase the Sunshine Coast as a competitive and viable cruise destination.”