Holland America Line cruise ship MS Maasdam docked in Gladstone on November 19, 2019. Also pictured is construction site of East Shores stage 1B.
Holland America Line cruise ship MS Maasdam docked in Gladstone on November 19, 2019. Also pictured is construction site of East Shores stage 1B.

Future of Gladstone’s cruise ship tourism market revealed

THE ONLY cruise liner expected to dock at Gladstone this year sailed off into the Pacific seven months ago, but the regions tourism economy is being buoyed by vehicle visitors.

That is the word from Gladstone Area Promotion and Development Limited’s chief executive Gus Stedman, who said bookings across the region were on the rise.

The region’s $200 million annual tourism income was smashed by COVID-19, but recent signs had been positive, said Mr Stedman.

He said there were no cruise ships scheduled to dock for the rest of 2020 at Gladstone.

“One cruise ship has visited Gladstone this year and that was the Pacific Explorer on January 30,” Mr Stedman said.

Mr Stedman said since the first cruise ship arrived in 2016, a further 13 P & O vessels had docked in Port Curtis at the Auckland Point terminal, plus a Holland America ship.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of visits to Gladstone by the Explorer Dream on March 3, and the Pacific Explorer on March 19.

GADPL chief executive Gus Stedman.
GADPL chief executive Gus Stedman.

Despite the loss of a potential 3800 visitors from those cancellations, Mr Stedman said drive market tourists had increased.

“The impact is negligible due to the amount of drive market tourists visiting the area,” he said.

“Our tourism members are seeing strong bookings through to September and the next school holidays are looking good.

“GADPL are recording all visitors through our centres, as per the instructions from Tourism and Events Queensland.

“Some people have come from interstate however most visitors have been from south east Queensland.”

As for when the next cruise liner could be expected in Gladstone, Mr Stedman said that was unknown.

“The cruise industry may choose to start in other countries than Australia initially as they are larger markets and can easily fill the ships to the 60 per cent capacity that will be required into the future,” he said.

The total impact of the pandemic on the Gladstone region tourism market is more than $25 million, Mr Stedman has previously said.

“The losses in the region would now be into the tens of millions, whereas in Queensland the losses to the economy would be in the billions,” Mr Stedman has said.



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