CRUISE ships are scheduled to dock at Portland from early next year bringing an expected multi-million-dollar tourism bonanza to south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia.
Years after the concept was first floated, the state government yesterday announced a $243,000 grant towards a $486,000 upgrade of mooring facilities with work expected to be completed by January.
The upgrade will be able to handle ships up to 265 metres long carrying more than 1000 passengers.
Premier and South West Coast MP Denis Napthine said bringing cruise ships into port would stimulate further spin-off investment around the region of more than $4m annually for the next decade.
“Cruise ship companies are always looking for new markets and when representatives visited Portland and district they were blown away by what’s on offer,” he said.
“They are quite excited about the prospects and believe the Portland venture will be a success.”
“Passengers will have opportunity to visit the Twelve Apostles, Grampians, Tower Hill, Coonawarra and other attractions. There would be 20 to 30 buses ready to take them on full or half-day tours.
“Usually about 70 per cent of passengers go on tours and the rest who remain behind will wander around the city.
“These are big-spending passengers and local residents should take on board the benefits to flow from this.
“It will be worth millions to the local economy.”
Glenelg Shire Council mayor Karen Stephens the cruise ship sector was a rapidly increasing market and operators were seeking non-metropolitan ports and new attractions for passengers.
“We are marketing our pristine environment and nature-based tourism,” she said.
“The locality of Portland is in close proximity to sought-after natural attractions.
“Once the first cruise ships are here and they say their passengers enjoyed the experience we anticipate more will want to come.”
She said a tourism boom was also expected with hundreds of south-west residents driving to Portland to see the ships at dock.
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