Cruise ships bring $1.8 million

Image | Todd Carrington

Figures have been recently released by Cruise Down Under which confirm that the first cruise ships to visit Busselton brought in $1.8 million and generated $500,000 in wages in 2014-15.  Busselton had six cruise ship visits in the last financial year and the figures show WA is leading the nation in growth in the cruise sector. Cruise ship visits to WA last financial year generated $275.3 million which is $159 million more than the previous year.  The news comes as the City of Busselton is preparing to invest significant funds into a new marine berthing facility at the Busselton Jetty, which will be built to handle two cruise ship tenders, which carry passengers to and from the ship, as well as other commercial vessels including whale watching boats.

One of the primary benefits of increased cruise ship visits is visitation from a market that may not otherwise visit the region. Interstate and international visitors on cruises are often ‘destination sampling’ – ie. trialling a destination to see if they would like to return in future, subsequently, repeat visitation is a huge benefit of cruise ship visits.   Another major benefit is the economic impact of increased visitor spend, namely from passengers undertaking organised shore excursions, as well as those who explore the township of Busselton and surrounds at their leisure.

Development into promoting Busselton as a cruise ship destination began number of years ago, and included everything from ensuring suitable anchorage and disembarkation facilities to familiarising the cruise liner and the contracted shore excursion company with the destination and local tourism product.   In this regard, the Geographe Bay Tourism Association (now the MRBTA), City of Busselton, South West Development Commission and Tourism WA worked closely together to ensure the success of cruise shipping into Busselton.  One of the key roles the MTBTA played was working with local tourism operators to develop cruise ready product, and facilitating a cruise ship welcome program which involved working with the local community and volunteers and providing training to ensure a warm welcome for cruise ship passengers.

Training was to ensure guests were looked after from a logistical standpoint, as well as made to feel welcome and given an outstanding visitor experience.  One major point of difference is that we strived to provide as high level service for the non-paying day trippers as is provided to those undertaking paid shore excursions. As a result of this welcome program, 100% of visiting passengers had a positive experience in Busselton; (61%) rated their overall experience at the destination as “excellent”; 34% rated their overall experience as “very good”; and the remainder rated their experience as “good” according to independent research conducted by Tourism WA.  Our aim is to maintain this high satisfaction rating to make sure Busselton is a viable port for the future.

Since the first cruise ship arrived in Busselton in November 2014, the region’s reputation as a world class cruising destination has gone from strength to strength with the latest schedules released by Princess and Carnival Cruises showing 18 more cruise ships set to visit Busselton over the next 18 months.  The original cruise schedule proposed by the shipping companies was for 14 cruise ships to visit Busselton between November 2014 and April 2017 however the latest  schedule released has an additional six visits planned, including the Queen Mary 2 in February 2017.  The Queen Mary 2 is Cunard’s flagship and according to the cruise line, the most magnificent ocean liner ever built.  Australia is also the world’s fastest growing cruise shipping market so it’s important to take this into account for the future of cruising in the region.

Busselton has a bright future as a destination for cruise ships, especially with the cruise industry set to boom – we’re certainly excited to see this important market grow.  The amazing amount of product within a close proximity to other product and to port is certainly our point of difference – where else can you disembark the ship and within 30 minutes be sitting a winery for lunch?  It is also the entrance to a region that is recognised world-wide and on many people’s wish list; it is a destination which many international travellers see as remote, and hence enticing. The region offers a relaxed and friendly vibe where visitors get the opportunity to meet the locals and get a real feel for the place, coupled with a wide variety of things to see, do and experience in close proximity to the dock.

View the cruise ship arrival schedule for the 2015-16 season.