Plans to bring cruise ship passengers to region

Published 4:00pm 7 November 2023

Plans to bring cruise ship passengers to region
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

Promoting Moreton Bay as a must-see destination for cruise ship passengers visiting Queensland was one of the many exciting talking points mentioned during a recent Tourism Spotlight event hosted by Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT), in partnership with the City of Moreton Bay. 

The idea was presented by Shorex Australia’s Managing Director and Founder James Coughlan, who works closely with cruise ship companies all over the world to organise memorable onshore trips and experiences for guests to enjoy when they arrive at port.

James was one of four guest speakers invited by MBRIT CEO Natassia Wheeler to speak at the event, which was held at The Komo on November 1.

Also in attendance was Queensland’s Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry and Development Michael Healy, Success Matrix Managing Director Amanda Kruse and Big Red Group Market Manager Jacinda Biles, as well as more than a dozen local tour operators who were keen to hear what they had to say.

With more than 25 years’ experience in the cruise industry, James says cruise liners are now looking for more bespoke experiences to wow guests, which is something Moreton Bay could offer.

“Gone are the days where cruise lines want big bulk experiences – today, it’s more about the smaller bespoke experiences and really tapping into local markets to ensure they can benefit from the cruise industry,” James says.

“In the last 10 years, cruise ship visitors have been going to places like the Brisbane CBD, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Australia Zoo, but with Moreton Bay being just a short drive from the Brisbane International Cruise Ship Terminal, this is an area that I personally think needs to be looked at and included in cruise itineraries.

“You have so much to offer here, from the water all the way up to the mountains.

“Moreton Bay is not only a gateway to the islands, but you have so much history here and unique experiences that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

“Redcliffe was the site of the first landing here in Queensland, so there is a good story behind that.

“There are also some amazing Indigenous experiences offered by Traditional Owners that people would be interested in.

“Plus, not to mention all the animal experiences that international tourists would love, and your food and wine offerings – you have it all here.

“I’m here to make those connections with local tourism operators, see what they have to offer, and link them with the right people so they can expand their business and product on the world stage.”

In addition to potentially bringing more tourists to the region, James would also like to explore the concept of getting Moreton Bay products onto the cruise ships.

“About 10-15 years ago, the majority of food that went onto cruise ships was imported. Today, the majority is all locally sourced,” James explains.

“There are also local cruise lines who base their cruises around local produce. They want to work with local communities to get amazing food and drinks on board because they know this is something their guests want.

“I would love to see Moreton Bay’s freshest produce on board these ships.”

According to James, most cruise ship visitors who dock in Brisbane come from North America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Plans to bring cruise ship passengers to region
Above: Guest speakers who attended the Tourism Spotlight event hosted by MBRIT: Amanda Kruse, Natassia Wheeler, Michael Healy, James Coughlan and Jacinda Biles. 

Real life success story

During his presentation, James spoke about how he worked closely with one Queensland tourism operator to offer a spectacular day trip experience for international travellers to enjoy during their visit down under.

“The team at Shorex Australia worked closely with the team from Lady Elliot Island for a while, and I’m excited to say they will now be offering a joy flight to the island for visitors onboard Viking Cruises,” James explains.

“The cruise ships will be coming in February and March next year, and I’m pleased to say that those flights have already booked out – those guests are excited to be part of that.

“Due to its popularity, I am working with the team to look at how we can get a second plane to keep that going.

“That is just one example of how local tourism operators can be involved with the cruise ship industry, and how I can work with you to get your product and experience out there.”

Plans to bring cruise ship passengers to region

Boost for the local economy

Due to Moreton Bay’s proximity to the Brisbane International Cruise Ship Terminal, MBRIT CEO Natassia Wheeler says the possibility of having thousands of passengers visit each year would be a real boost to the local economy.

"MBRIT is dedicated to promoting the Moreton Bay region as a premier destination for cruise travellers. Our objective through Visit Moreton Bay is to enhance the region's share of cruise visitation in Queensland, boost visitor spending during their cruise holidays here, and expand the array of tours and experiences offered on board cruise ships,” Natassia says.

"We were thrilled to host James Coughlan from Shorex Australia in the Moreton Bay region last week. This visit allowed us to showcase the incredible variety of tourism experiences and opportunities available to the cruise market in our region. Moreton Bay is a hidden gem, and we're excited to share its potential with the cruise industry.

"Queensland plays a vital role in Australia's cruise industry, contributing significantly to the economy. In the 2018–19 season, Queensland generated an impressive total value add of $570 million from an output of $1,037 million. With 521 cruise ship days along our shores, Queensland welcomed 853,000 passengers and crew. It's a testament to the appeal and growth potential of the cruise industry in our state."

About Shorex Australia

Shorex was founded in 2023 and is an Australian owned and operated Inbound Tour Operator specialising in the cruise industry.

With a commitment to a sustainable growth of cruise in Australia, Shorex Australia partners with local stakeholders to ensure everyone in the supply chain benefits, and that the cruise guest has the best experiences the region has to offer.

Local presence and a focus on key destinations puts Shorex Australia in a good position to hold solid relationships with local partners and develop amazing new products that will benefit the local community, the guests and the cruise lines.


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