Kimberley cruises bounce back from pandemic with more than double the economic output

Cain AndrewsBroome Advertiser
Prince Regent River and King Cascade.
Camera IconPrince Regent River and King Cascade. Credit: Supplied

The Kimberley cruise industry has mounted an excellent come back after the pandemic with the sector contributing $31m to the region over the past year, more than double pre-pandemic levels.

According to Australian Cruise Association chief executive Jill Abel, in the 2022-2023 financial year cruise ships brought $31m into Broome and its surrounds, more than double the $13m brought in pre-pandemic.

“The Kimberley had a big year, it was fantastic,” she said.

The Kimberley has also seen an uptick on pre-pandemic calls which capped at 27, with 53 cruise ship calls in the past year.

While other parts of the tourism sector struggle to find their feet, Ms Abel said the cruise sector had handled the return of cruise shipping to the region “extremely well”.

Australian Cruise Association chief executive Jill Abel.
Camera IconAustralian Cruise Association chief executive Jill Abel. Credit: Jakeb Waddell

“Cruise has a very loyal following so as soon as they restarted their followers were back and booking within a flash but the statistics are also showing that there is a high rate of people new to cruising booking experiences at the moment,” she said.

“People are realising that international travel is still a little bit challenging in terms of air travel and costs and a whole range of other elements and they’re seeing cruises as being an easy and affordable holiday option.”

It comes as Coral Expeditions, which runs cruises in the Kimberley, announced it had the best performance and highest guest sentiment ratings in the company’s long history in the region.

Having finished its 30th season in the region, Coral Expeditions managing director Mark Fifield said 2023 had been a “triumph” for the Coral Expeditions crew.

Coral Adventurer lowers Xplorer with guests into the water.
Camera IconCoral Adventurer lowers Xplorer with guests into the water. Credit: Supplied

“The feedback we have received this year is impressive and holds us in good stead for the years ahead,” he said.

“We have retained our focus and stepped it up to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive landscape with many larger foreign-flagged and crewed vessels converging on the Kimberley coast.”

Coral Expeditions commercial director Jeff Gillies.
Camera IconCoral Expeditions commercial director Jeff Gillies. Credit: Supplied

The company boasted 52 departures between March and October and hosted more than 4000 passengers, which Coral Expeditions commercial director Jeff Gillies said was due to the unique experience it offered.

“For decades our reputation has been built on key foundations of a shared adventure between our guests and crew,”he said.

“These are practices and values that come so naturally to our team and have developed over time.

“It is these ways that build the pride of our crew and ensure the satisfaction of our guests and we know that they will be impossible for others to replicate.”

The new year is looking promising for the sector as well with 51 cruise ship calls set for the 2023-24 financial year, according to Ms Abel.

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