Room for Houtman Abrolhos Islands as a cruise ship destination, Carnival Australia tells Geraldton tourism summit

Zoe KeenanGeraldton Guardian

Carnival Australia destination director Michael Mihajlov said there is room for cruises to Geraldton and the Abrolhos islands.

Mr Mihajlov, who was in town for the Tourism Investment Summit last week, said while Geraldton was earning top marks as a cruise destination, there were opportunities for the Abrolhos.

“This is a story worth telling because it’s a world-class attraction with history, cultural values and social values,” he said.

“If we can set this up and make it accessible, it will not compromise Geraldton as a cruise port.

“We can accommodate both.”

Tourism WA executive director of destination development Derryn Belford said Geraldton recorded $13.3 million total expenditure from 13 cruise ship visits in 2016-17.

She said there was an opportunity to capitalise on the cruise sector by offering Abrolhos experiences.

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Mr Mihajlov said another area of interest picking up in the cruise sector was events cruising.

“This is a new thing for time-poor people — they need a quick getaway,” he said.

“As an example, the company sent two cruises to the Australian Open, bringing in 4000 guests.

“So that’s a little bit of food for thought, what can Geraldton do to capitalise on that Perth market?”

Among the other selection criteria for cruise ship destinations, Mr Mihajlov said as a full-profit business, commercial considerations were paramount.

“This includes port density — the more ports you have in the shortest amount of days, the better,” he said.

“Another big one is if we can berth a ship on-site it makes a huge difference. Tender boats are not a preferred experience for guests and puts stress on the crew, so a big thanks to the port here for buying shore tension units, allowing us to berth there.”

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