12,500 to arrive on cruises

Kangaroo Island is set to grow as a major cruise ship destination following the announcement that nine international ships will anchor in Penneshaw during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 cruising seasons.

The ships will bring more than 12,500 passengers and crew to the island. Vessels on their first voyages to Kangaroo Island include the MS Europa, MS Volendam, MS Amsterdam, the Pacific Princess and the Seabourn Sojourn.

Tourism Minister Gail Gago said the bookings reinforced the importance of a $300,000 landing pontoon alongside the Penneshaw jetty that received State Government funding late last year.

The fixed pontoon should be complete by mid-May and features a series of levels for use in different tides.

“With nine cruise ship visits booked in the next two years, the landing pontoon has well and truly paid for itself,” Ms Gago said.

“These bookings are wonderful news for Kangaroo Island and complement the South Australian Tourism Commission’s new $6 million campaign for the region.”

Ms Gago said a 2011 Access Economics report found that every one-day cruise ship visit to Kangaroo Island delivered $100,000 in passenger expenditure to the local economy.

“Ships visit between September and May each year, and the SATC is confident an extra two bookings will be made for the 2013-14 season,” Ms Gago said.

SATC chief executive Jane Jeffreys said additional growth in the market was possible. “There are still cruise lines that we believe would be a really good fit with Kangaroo Island,” Ms Jeffreys said. “We are also aware of the island’s unique nature and don’t want to overwhelm it with more visits than are sustainable.”

“We work closely with a cruise committee on Kangaroo Island that comprises local businesses, tourism operators and local tourism representatives.”

Tourism Kangaroo Island chairman Pierre Gregor said the committee formed from TKI members, retail businesses and tour operators before the last cruise ship visit would continue.

Local tours of wineries and attractions organised by the committee for the previous cruise had not been hugely successful but Mr Gregor said lessons had been learnt.

“The ship’s operators and the agents need to be in the loop much earlier – six to eight months in advance – about local offerings, and we’re working on that.”

“We’re encouraging early negotiations. There are challenges, such as the number of coaches available on the island.

“But it is a good thing if we do it well because some of these people will come back as independent travellers and will act as ambassadors for the island,” Mr Gregor said.