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Record-breaking cruise season to tip $4.7 million into local businesses

Page last updated on 23-11-2023.

Record-breaking cruise season to tip $4.7 million into local businesses

21st November 2023

Townsville is gearing up for its biggest ever cruise season with today’s visit (23 November 2023) from Silver Muse leading the way for a record 18 vessels calling at the Port of Townsville over the coming months.

More than 21,000 passengers and crew will disembark in Townsville this summer, directly injecting over $4.7 million into businesses across the city and surrounding regions.

Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby said the bumper season is the first sign of some big things to come for Townsville’s cruise industry.

“It is very encouraging to see our cruise bookings grow by 50 per cent from last season to this one, exceeding the strong growth rate the industry is seeing across the entire Australian market,” said Ms Crosby.

“New data shows that the cruise industry generated $5.63 billion for Australia’s economy in its first year of post-Covid revival. This is the industry’s highest ever impact, representing a 22 per cent increase from 2018-19.

“Port of Townsville has worked closely with Townsville Enterprise, Townsville City Council and tourism partners to grow Townsville’s slice of the pie since the opening of Quayside Terminal in 2014. Our current Channel Upgrade project will drive growth in Townsville’s cruise visitation as we prepare to welcome Large Class cruise vessels next season, with record bookings for the next three consecutive years.”

Cruise lines themselves are responsible for $1.17 billion in direct national expenditure – on operational costs such as port charges, food and beverage, fuel, administration, and included shore excursions – with passenger spending higher again at $1.49 billion on top of this.

Townsville Enterprise Director Visitor Economy and Marketing Lisa Woolfe said the cruise season will be a huge win for a range of Townsville North Queensland businesses across summer.

“More than 20,000 passengers and crew members will contribute in excess of $4.7 million to the local economy,” said Ms Woolfe.

“Cruise passengers are a great injector into the visitor economy at this time of year and support a number of tour and experiences businesses right across the region, but also share this contribution with small businesses such as transport providers, arts and entertainment businesses, restaurants, bars, cafes and retailers.”

“It’s an economic impact that the whole city will benefit from and we’re very excited to invite more of it into Townsville and the surrounding regions this cruise season.”

“Cruise passengers have a high propensity to return to destinations that they enjoy, so there is an immense opportunity to showcase what our region has to offer for return visitation into the future.”

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it was exciting to welcome the first cruise ship of the season to the city.

“This will be the first of 18 cruise ships scheduled to visit Townsville during the 2023-24 cruise season,” Cr Hill said.

“Passengers from across the world including countries like the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, Austria, Sweden, Germany and New Zealand will be coming here to enjoy our hospitality and world-class attractions.

“Council has been working closely with the Port of Townsville, Townsville Enterprise and other stakeholders to ensure our region gets more cruise ship visitation.”

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said Townsville was a fantastic place to visit so to have more people coming to the city was good for local businesses.

“We want to see more people come to Townsville and experience what the capital of Northern Australia has to offer and spend money at our local businesses,” he said.

“We are also investing in the Port’s Channel Upgrade project which will allow bigger cruise ships to come into Townsville which will help bring more money into the city.”

Silver Muse will begin its journey in Cairns and travel the islands of the South Pacific to Auckland, carrying passengers predominantly from United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada.

Townsville’s 2023-24 Cruise Season
  • Townsville will welcome 18 cruise ships to Townsville from 23 November 2023 to 26 April 2024.
  • Visiting cruise ships will bring 13,224 passengers and 7,823 crew to Townsville throughout the season.
  • Passengers visiting Townsville will come predominantly from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Two cruise ships will make their maiden calls to Townsville during the 2023/24 cruise season – Seven Seas Explorer and Seven Seas Navigator.

Economic Impact of Australia’s cruise industry

The Value of Cruise Tourism economic impact assessment for Australia was prepared by AEC Group on behalf of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the Australian Cruise Association (ACA).

Its key findings for 2022-23 show:

  • A total economic output of $5.63 billion nationally (up 22.1%) including direct output of $2.5 billion.
  • Total employment of 18,225 full time equivalent positions nationally (up 9.9%), with total wages income of $1.82 billion (up 35.7%).
  • A total of 62 Australian ports and destinations visited, welcoming a combined 1,354 ship visits.
  • A total of 3.35 million passenger visit days (down 4.1% due to fewer ships operating in the region during the industry’s recovery phase).
  • Direct passenger expenditure of $1.49 billion (up 10.6%) and direct crew expenditure of $52.0 million (up 48.1%).
  • Transit ports, like Townsville, enjoyed an average international passenger spend per day on shore of $280pp. Average crew spend per day on shore $137pp (up 7.9%).
  • The largest beneficiary of direct passenger expenditure was the hotel and accommodation sector which received $457.1 million, or 30.6% of passenger spending. Other beneficiaries included food & beverage ($300.1 million, 20.1%), shore excursions ($194.3 million, 13.0%), transport ($208.8 million, 14.0%), retail shopping ($163.1 million, 10.9%) and entertainment ($57.8 million, 3.9%).
  • Direct cruise line expenditure of $1.17 billion (up 8.3%).
  • Cruise line expenditure included $227 million (up 1.4%) paid to Australian ports and governments.
  • Queensland is the country’s second-largest cruise economy, with a total economic output of $1.69 billion, or 29.9% of the national total, which supported 5,546 full time equivalent jobs.

All comparisons are to 2018-19, the previous complete year of cruise operations in Australia.