Pacific Dawn’s Stunning And Emotional Return To Airlie Beach After Cyclone Debbie !
Pacific Dawn made her much anticipated return to Airlie Beach from Brisbane yesterday morning. Much of the devastation caused by Cyclone Debbie is not noticeable because the locals and many of the volunteers have done such a wonderful job making Airlie Beach cruise ship visitor ready again.
Two weeks ago a cyclone ripped through this close knit community, but you would have barely noticed it yesterday when Pacific Dawn arrived in the glowing sun. The whole community has rallied to get things done big time!
Airlie Beach yesterday awoke to a stunning morning with the sun shining brightly and the beautiful Pacific Dawn anchored off the gateway to the Whitsundays. Australian flags were flying high and local and international tourists are returning giving the local economy the boost that it has needed.
It's time for Australians and international visitors to come back to Queensland to spend some time holidaying in this beautiful region of our country. Yesterday also saw the local cruise ambassadors out in force.
Carnival Australia spoke to coordinator Brian Richardson. They also spoke to Jackie and Jeni at the market off the Main Street at Airlie, who were delighted to see the cruise ships back. Plus a few words with tuk tuk captain Tania Lewis. They also met Mel, Jessi, Siona and Lauren first Pacific Dawn guests in town.
It was certainly an honour for Pacific Dawn to be the first cruise ship back to Airlie Beach the beautiful gateway to the Whitsundays since Cyclone Debbie. Al Grundy from Tourism Whitsundays was delighted to receive a $10,000 cheque from the P&O Pacific Partnership to assist the cyclone recovery. Entertainment Director Willie Lee had also told a Carnival Australia spokesperson that Pacific Dawn's 2000 guests were here to support the local community.
In a stunning declaration that Queensland tourism is back in business after Cyclone Debbie’s rampage, P&O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn had yesterday become the first cruise ship to return to Airlie Beach. Proud Queenslander Ann Sherry, Executive Chairman of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, said Pacific Dawn’s return to Airlie Beach, along with two other calls later this month, was a sign that Queensland had bounced back in the most emphatic fashion!
Ms Sherry said it was fitting that the Brisbane-based Pacific Dawn was the first cruise ship to return after Airlie Beach authorities and tourism leaders signalled the gateway to the Whitsundays was again ready to welcome cruise visitors.
“Cyclone Debbie did its best but you can’t knock Queensland down for long and these communities have been quick to get back on their feet,” Ms Sherry said.
“While the return to Airlie Beach will be an emotional moment for the local community and our guests, P&O is pleased to play a role in reviving the visitor economy, which is vital to so many communities in Queensland.”
Ms Sherry said P&O was also backing Queensland Tourism’s #thisisqueensland campaign, encouraging Australians and international visitors to put Queensland back on their holiday radar.
“We are delighted that Pacific Dawn is helping to lead the fight-back in a state that already has the distinction of having more cruise destinations than any other state in Australia.
“Irrespective of their travel choice, Australians need to support the people of northern Queensland by going back there on holiday to pump lifeblood into the tourism sector.”
This month, 6000 P&O guests will arrive at Airlie Beach as a result of Pacific Dawn’s three scheduled calls on April 13, 17 and 27. P&O is currently awaiting the all-clear for its calls to Hamilton Island to resume, following the damage caused to the resort island by Cyclone Debbie. In the meantime, substitute calls are being made to Townsville and Airlie Beach.
In total, P&O is expected to make more than 30 calls to Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island this year, carrying an estimated 60,000 tourists to the townships.
Pacific Dawn departed Airlie Beach yesterday at 5.30pm.
Carnival Australia Executive Chairman Ann Sherry today pledged that cruising would play a significant part in Queensland’s economic recovery from Cyclone Debbie's onslaught.
Ms Sherry’s comments followed an inspection of cyclone affected areas of the State with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and State Tourism Minister Kate Jones as well as Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo.
Pacific Dawn’s visit will be the first of three P&O calls to the Whitsunday coast this month. A total of 34 ships from across Carnival Australia’s cruise brands are scheduled to visit the region this year -- eight more than in 2016 -- while 48 visits are scheduled next year.
“As a proud Queenslander, I am delighted that our cruise lines such as P&O Cruises can play a part in Queensland’s economic recovery following Cyclone Debbie,” Ms Sherry said.
“Coastal areas are heavily dependent on tourism for jobs and the visitor economy generally so the communities need visitors to return to help them rebuild.
“The sight of cruise ships returning to cyclone affected destinations is a signal to people around Australia and internationally that tourism is bouncing back and that they should consider holidaying in Queensland.
“We know it is going to be an emotional moment on Thursday when Pacific Dawn arrives at Airlie Beach for the first time since Cyclone Debbie and the first passengers start coming ashore from the ship’s tender vessels.”
Cruising’s role in post cyclone recovery comes at a time when Queensland has recorded massive growth as a cruise market.
In 2015-16, cruising contributed $976 million to the Queensland economy -- a stunning increase of 53 per cent on 2014-15.
Nearly 300,000 Queenslanders took a cruise holiday in 2015 -- around a third of the more than one million Australians who cruised that year.
Ms Sherry said Brisbane was also emerging as a major cruise hub with three ships in Carnival Australia’s fleets -- Pacific Dawn, Pacific Aria and Sun Princess -- currently homeported in the city.
Ship turnarounds from Carnival Australia brands in Brisbane would increase from 124 this year to 142 in 2018.
“Record cruising growth in Queensland is perfectly timed for cruise tourism to play a significant role in the post cyclone resurgence of local tourism,” Ms Sherry said. “We are proud to be part of it.”
Information supplied by: P&O Cruises Australia.
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