Bundy could welcome thousands after P&O; confirm Fraser plan
THE Fraser Coast - and possibly Bundaberg - could soon be welcoming thousands of passengers each year with P&O confirming the region "is on the radar."
The cruise company's two newest ships, Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria, are expected to be the ships of choice due to their smaller tonnage which would allow them to anchor in deep water off Fraser Island.
While no plan has been confirmed, the Chronicle understands the ships will anchor off the island and visitors could then use whale watching boats to get around.
Each ship will bring 1500 visitors and guests are expected to experience Fraser, Hervey Bay, Maryborough and possibly Bundaberg.
Travel expert Geoff Spark is a keen advocate for the plan, and told the Chronicle he has been promoting the Fraser Coast to P&O for about two years.
The managing director of King William Travel in Adelaide, one of the biggest retailers for P&O cruises, Mr Spark visits his Hervey Bay holiday home about six times as year and plans to retire here.
While nothing is certain, Mr Spark expects an announcement that cruise ships will visit our region sometime this year.
"If this is confirmed it will bring 1500 people into the marina," he said.
The news comes after P&O's announcement in August that Gladstone would feature on the itineraries of some cruises departing Sydney next year.
At the time, P&O CEO Ann Sherry said Queensland was central to the company's growth strategy.
The Eden and Aria ships are smaller than many cruise ships at 56,000 tonnes compared to larger ships at about 77,000 tonnes.
The smaller liners would be better suited to the shifting sands of the Great Sandy Strait, Mr Spark said.
A P&O spokesman said the line was constantly looking at new destinations for the two new ships.
"The Fraser Coast is on the radar but any discussion of when this might happen is premature," he said.
"Consideration of any new destination involves a massive amount of preliminary study and operational assessment."
Mr Spark believes ships could start arriving in the region at the end of next year.
Tourism and Events Queensland staff have visited the region to survey the strait.
Fraser Coast Regional Council tourism spokesman Stuart Taylor confirmed the results were positive and said the region would benefit from the expected visitor influx.
"We've been advocating strongly in this space," Cr Taylor said, adding that discussions between key stakeholders had already been held.