Townsville sails towards cruise ship growth

7 September 2016

Townsville sails towards cruise ship sector growth following release of White and Grey Ship-Attraction Plan 2016-2021

The White and Grey Ship-Attraction Committee (WGSAC) has released the Townsville White and Grey Ship-Attraction Plan 2016-2021.

The Plan targets at least 30 white ship (cruise) visits to Townsville per year, and to extrapolate maximum tourism spend from visiting Defence personnel on grey ships.

Formed in January 2016, the WGSAC brings together Townsville’s key tourism industry stakeholders to identify opportunities for growth from the burgeoning cruise market, as well as recreational Defence visits.  

Seven objectives are listed in the Plan with all key stakeholders taking on key actions to achieve the collectively agreed targets and clear deadlines. 

WGSAC Chair Sharon Hoops said that the Plan gives Townsville a clear blueprint to attract more cruise ships, as well as getting maximum economic and social benefit from visits by Defence vessels.

“The WGSAC’s efforts are already reaping rewards with 11 cruise ships due to call Townsville in 2017, up from four this year. In 2018 the Townsville Port is holding 13 berth bookings, with more expected.”

“Those 11 ships will be carrying almost 12,500 passengers and crew, and studies show that on average each passenger will spend up to $350 per destination.” 

“If anyone has doubts about these figures, remember that passengers on the last cruise ship to visit Townsville paid up to $300,000 just for their ticket on the vessel.”

WGSAC Members (alphabetical order)
  • 4TOFM (Steve Price)
  • Campbell’s Coaches
  • ISS Shipping
  • Maritime Safety Queensland
  • Port of Townsville Limited
  • Quest Apartments
  • Navy
  • SeaLink QLD
  • Townsville City Council
  • Townsville Enterprise Limited
  • Tourism & Events Queensland
  • Tourism Operators & Businesses Magnetic Island Townsville Helicopters
  • Townsville Taxis

“Cruise ship and grey ship vessel visits represent a huge economic opportunity for Townsville.  If we can impress our visitors in 2017, the numbers will grow and our community will reap the rewards.”

For grey ships, the Committee will ensure Defence personnel visiting our city are provided with up-to-date information about the region to encourage participation in tourism activities and community events.

Townsville Enterprise Tourism & Events Director and WGSAC member Bridget Woods said a burgeoning cruise ship industry in Townsville opens a new market for tourism operators in the city.

“The influx of visitors from cruise ships provides significant economic benefits to tour operators,” said Ms Woods.

“In the last six months an additional three tour operators have begun trading in Townsville. This expands the already exceptional tour experiences our destination currently has on offer, and provides cruise ship visitors with a variety of options to explore our great city.”

“Our aim is to ensure the region delivers world-class experiences to a multitude of visitors. By opening our doors to cruise ship passengers, the piece of paradise we call home can continue to be shared world wide”. 

Managing Director Sealink QLD Paul Victory said that the new Cape Cleveland Lighthouse Tour was already receiving strong interest.

“Part of the development of the North Queensland Adventure series, the Cape Cleveland Lighthouse Tour has gained strong interest from the cruise ship industry,” said Mr Victory.

“SeaLink is excited to expand upon its current cruise ship offerings including a Magnetic Island day trip in partnership with Bungalow Bay Koala Sanctuary. Partnerships like these are important in the development of what the region has to offer and SeaLink is committed to assisting this growth.”

Townsville Helicopter Director Richard Arnold said that cruise ships provided a real boost to the business when they were in port.

“A ship that brings hundreds or thousands of passengers and crew into the city provides a direct increase in sales to the charter side of our business while it’s in Townsville,” said Mr Arnold.
Working with the WGSAC and embracing the cruise ship market has empowered Townsville Helicopters to start developing new products that can be marketed to the broader tourism market.”

WGSAC achievements for 2016 (so far):
  • Securing the booking for MS Amsterdam in February when the vessel was looking for an alternative point of call; then coordinating an exceptional welcome experience for the ship’s 1200 passengers that is still being talked about by the cruise industry around the world;
  • The introduction of a more coordinated passenger arrivals processes at Townsville Bulletin Square in the CBD by Townsville City Council, including key measures to improve passenger experiences such as live entertainment and markets;
  • The development of new tourism product offerings for cruise ship passengers in Townsville from 2017 that are already showing results with increased ship bookings including:
    o    Watersports Townsville – Jet ski’s on the Strand
    o    Reef Restoration Project Experience – Passengers take part in a dive to help remove algae from coral off Magnetic Island
    o    Cape Cleveland Lighthouse Tour
  • An update of marketing materials used by Townsville Enterprise and Tourism Events Queensland to sell Townsville as a destination to cruise lines;
  • Refining the welcome and departure experience for passengers at Quayside Terminal;
  • Introduction of a free shuttle bus for passengers that completes a loop of the City/Strand for the duration of the ship’s stay;
  • The installation of a free WIFI service Quayside Terminal by October 2016.

The Townsville White and Grey Ship Attraction Plan 2016-2021 can be downloaded here. View the Cruise Ship Schedule 2017-2019 here

Sharon Hoops
Port of Townsville Public Relations Executive/WGSAC Chair 0413 212 058

Lucy Abbott
Townsville Enterprise Media & Public Relations Executive - or 0434 182 765

Find out more about Cruise Ships in Townsville      Download Media Release