With the arrival of the last ship Pacific Eden last month, the 2017/18 cruise ship visit season for Kangaroo Island has ended.
The season saw two visit cancellations due to bad weather and 19 successful arrivals, bringing ashore approximately 28,000 visitors.
Tourism Kangaroo Island (TKI) chairman Pierre Gregor said this was a significant growth on the previous year and underscored the significant ongoing growth trend is cruise ship visits.
The South Australian Tourism Commission was actively promoting South Australia as a cruise destination and Kangaroo Island had significant appeal to cruise line operators, contributing to the rapid growth in visitation, he said.
“The coming season commencing November 2018 will witness an increase from this year’s 19 cruise ship visits to 30,” Mr Gregor said. “This is a significant increase with the possibility of at least 40,000 visitors coming ashore over the four-month season.
“Eleven of the cruise ships will arrive in February 2019.”
Local tour operators and businesses had been positive about the 2017/18 season with increases in cash flow and in some instances employment of additional staff, he said.
The economic impact of the visits have been felt across the Island.
Demand for local tours and hire cars has been high and had the potential to further stimulate business development and growth, Mr Gregor said.
Feedback from cruise passengers had in the main been very positive with many visitors stating that they intend to return for a longer stay, he said.
The conveyors of the Penneshaw cruise ship market, Betty McAdam and Robyn Field said that stall holders were generally happy with their interaction with cruise ship passengers.
“You never know what to expect because the demographics and number of passengers changes with every ship however we have a good number of stall holders that are prepared to commit to setting up for every visit” Ms McAdam said.
Mr Gregor reinforced that the market was an important component of the experience offered at Penneshaw and that it was appreciated by passengers coming ashore.
“Activities and experiences such as this are important in catering for those passengers unable to participate in tours and also have a role in show-casing local product and community friendliness,” he said.
“I look forward to the opening of the local Sculpture Trail, which will add another dimension to visitors experience.”
TKI had been central in organising the cruise passenger meet and greet program, coordinating volunteers and setting up signage, banners and flags to provide passengers with a sense of arrival.
“Volunteers play a critical role in this and without them the success of the program would be at risk,” Mr Gregor said.
Long-term volunteers John and Janet Heywood had been remarkable in their commitment to cruise ship visits over many years and the support provided by others like John Green, Jayne Bates and Jill Cowan had contributed to the positive experiences of cruise ship passengers, he said.
This core of volunteers is supplemented by a number of Flinders University students studying tourism.
As part of their commitment to KI the students participate in the TKI “Our KI” online ambassadorial and customer service training program, which provides them with greater knowledge about the Kangaroo island experience.
At the successful completion of the online training program, participants are presented with an “KI Ambassador” badge. More than 220 local employees and businesses have participated in the program.
Economic impact data provided through the South Australian Tourism Commission identified that cruise ship visits to the Island during 2016/17 injected approximately $10 million into the local economy, Mr Gregor said.