GETTING onboard the booming cruise ship market is one of the aims of a new tourist plan being developed for the Portland district.
The $60,000 strategy will also help determine how the area can capitalise on ecotourism opportunities.
Premier Denis Napthine announced a $45,000 grant for the project during a visit to the city last Friday, with the shire also tipping in $15,000.
“Tourism is on the rise in the Portland region with deep-sea fishing, whale and seal watching and sightseeing at Lake Condah, Mount Eccles and Lake Condah all proving to be popular drawcards for visitors,” Dr Napthine said.
“This strategy will explore additional options for increasing tourism to the region which were identified in the Great South Coast Regional Strategic Plan — particularly the potential benefits associated with the cruise ship industry.”
Portland will be able to accommodate cruise ship visits from next year following a $486,000 upgrade of the SL Patterson berth at the Lee Breakwater, due to be completed by January.
The upgraded berth will be able to cater for ships up to 265 metres long, carrying more than 1000 passengers.
Cruise companies are planning to organise full and half-day tours of district attractions, such as the Twelve Apostles, the Grampians, Tower Hill and Coonawarra.
The visits are forecast to bring about $4 million in economic benefits to the region each year, with many of the passengers traditionally regarded as big spenders.
People from across the south-west are also expected to flock to Portland to see the big ships at dock.
Dr Napthine said the new tourism strategy would focus on digital marketing platforms and brand awareness strategies to help council maximise opportunities.
“By bringing more visitors to the region, particularly interstate and overseas visitors, we can inject more money into the local economy and deliver more jobs for the local community.”