Lady Musgrave Cruises director John Clayton and Bundaberg Port Marina manager Geoff Beyer are hoping to start cruises to the island from Bundaberg within two years.
Lady Musgrave Cruises director John Clayton and Bundaberg Port Marina manager Geoff Beyer are hoping to start cruises to the island from Bundaberg within two years. Mike Knott

Fast trip to attract tourists

BUNDABERG could be on track for “many, many millions” of tourist dollars if John Clayton has his way.

The 76-year-old Lady Musgrave Cruises director is close to securing a fast service from Bundaberg Port to Lady Musgrave Island.

After four years of negotiations with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, all that stands between Bundaberg, a 90-minute trip to one of the reef's jewels and a major international tourism drawcard, is a final site inspection on September 10.

Mr Clayton has a $2.5million luxury pontoon sitting in Gladstone, just waiting to be shipped to its new home, inside the Lady Musgrave lagoon.

This will enable a new $8million, jet-powered, 35m catamaran, to deliver 350 people in style and comfort to within just 800m of the island.

“As soon as the additional pontoon is in place, we will be ordering the vessel,” Mr Clayton said.

Bundaberg and North Burnett Tourism general manager James Corvan, whose group is seeking expressions of interest for a separate, 175-seat service to the island, welcomed Mr Clayton's bid.

“It could solve one issue of finding an operator,” Mr Corvan said.

“If he sincerely intends to bring it back to Bundaberg, we'd be delighted.”

However, Mr Corvan said with plenty of interest as recently as yesterday in his group's service, there was still an opportunity for someone else to come in first.

Mr Clayton, whose operation has developed its website to reach a massive overseas market, said his plan would put Bundaberg on the map, worldwide.

“Eventually, we'll be looking to have an international airport,” he said.

“One boat a day is one jumbo.”

Mr Clayton will continue his Seventeen Seventy operations alongside the Bundaberg cruise.



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