The outbreak of the coronavirus has created a windfall for Capes businesses, with 11 additional cruise ships set to dock in Busselton over the next 18 months.
The deadly virus has led to the re-routing of several liners previously scheduled to visit Asian ports as part of their itineraries.
The City continues to receive more inquires for this and next cruise season, with 12 ships confirmed for the 2019-20 financial year and 22 ships for the 2020-21 financial year. Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said while the situation with the coronavirus was worrying, the outcome was a significant economic stimulus.
“We’re talking about millions of dollars of passenger spends at wineries, local shops, restaurants, cafes and tourist hot-spots,” he said.
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“Being included on the itineraries of these additional cruise ships also exposes the South West region to thousands more travellers from across the country and the world.”
Two of the most luxurious ships on the cruising circuit, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth, will now make Busselton their home in March and April.
Several new liners will make maiden visits to Geographe Bay, including the Explorer Dream and the Sapphire Princess, which has also booked to return on seven separate visits.
Such will be the demand for assistance over the coming cruising seasons, the Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association, which co-ordinates the Cruise Passenger Attendant Volunteer Program, is looking to recruit some new volunteers.
Margaret River-Busselton Tourism Association joint chief executive Steve Harrison said the influx of ships would create an economic and promotional boost.
“It’s huge for the whole region in terms of exposure,” he said.
“People who visit on cruise ships usually recommend to family and friends returning to Busselton and the Margaret River wine region.”
Busselton Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Smart said the influx of cruises gave the business community an opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and entrepreneurship.
“It will elongate the busy season, businesses will have a better cash flow and jobs in hospitality and retail will hopefully be more stable with the influx of visitors,” he said
The biggest cruise ship ever yo visit the Capes, the Majestic Princess, will bring more than 3500 tourists to Busselton today.
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