EXCLUSIVE: P and O to dock off Fraser Island from 2016

THE Fraser Coast has cracked the lucrative cruise market, with P&O's Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden to stop at Fraser Island twice in 2016.

The Chronicle can reveal P&O ships will make two trips to Kingfisher Bay Resort in 2016 and five in 2017.

The 55,000 tonne Pacific Aria will arrive to the World Heritage Listed island on a round trip from Brisbane on April 3 and the Pacific Eden from Sydney on December 12, 2016.

A maximum of 1400 passengers will be treated to "some of the world's most magnificent scenery" on Fraser Island.

The ship is expected to spend one day anchored in the deep channel off Kingfisher Bay Resort.

What do you think about P&O cruises coming to the Fraser Coast?

This poll ended on 28 October 2015.

Current Results

I think it's great news and will be great for our economy

78%

I don't like the idea

6%

I think it will have it's benefits

13%

I think it will take business away from small businesses in the area

1%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

After four years of work Fraser Coast tourism councillor Stuart Taylor was ecstatic at hearing the announcement.

Cr Taylor praised the "team effort" of Tourism and Events Queensland, Fraser Coast Opportunities and the Fraser Coast Regional Council for luring the Pacific Aria.

After almost four years of representations and reports, Cr Taylor was overjoyed the work had paid off with the ships to berth in the Great Sandy Strait.

In his first tourism report in 2012, Cr Taylor questioned the council on how the Fraser Coast could enter the rapidly growing but competitive cruise market.

Cr Taylor also predicted the Aria's voyage would be the first of many.

"Once ships start to see the benefit of our product I think you'll start to see more," he said.

"I don't think there's anywhere that can compete with the variety of our product.

"Think about what we've got - culture in Maryborough, the calm waters of Hervey Bay, the Great Sandy Strait, turtles, dugongs and of course whales - it's an incredible place."

Carnival Australia chief executive officer Ann Sherry was excited to take passengers to paradise.

"Fraser Island's Indigenous inhabitants gave their island home a name that means paradise, and our cruise passengers will have the opportunity to discover this for themselves," she said.

While working for several years to secure a ship, the defining point was in May this year when P&O's decision makers visited the Fraser Coast to meet with FCO.

FCO interim general manager Leigh Bennett hoped the mainland would also get a slice of the passenger pie.

"We would assume most passengers will be looking to go to Fraser Island," he said.

"But we do have itineraries and things that can happen in both Hervey Bay and Maryborough.

"We most definitely would be looking for some of those tenders (boats from the cruise ship) to come into the Urangan Harbour."

Kingfisher Bay Resort group general manager David Hay said passengers would have plenty of choice for activities. "Visitors can four-wheel drive down beautiful 75 Mile Beach, take a tour through the pristine rainforests and meet some of the island's wildlife, swim in crystal clear creeks or take a dip in world-famous Lake McKenzie," he said.

Mayor Gerard O'Connell congratulated FCO for their work and described the announcement as a big endorsement of the region.

"It's a feather in the cap for the whole of the Fraser Coast," he said.

Fraser Coast tourism expert Robbie Cornelius, expected each ship visit to inject thousands of dollars in to the economy.

"It's going to be a really good opportunity for local businesses to take advantage of these visits," he said.

"That opportunity will only exist if people get behind it."

Mr Cornelius said the key was "word of mouth" or getting passengers to return to the region with their families.

PACIFIC ARIA

  • At 55,000 tonnes, it's classed as a smaller ship
  • Can carry 1400 passengers
  • Will visit the Fraser Coast twice next year and five times in 2017


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