Cruise ships may visit: we're on the destination radar

THE Fraser Coast could soon be welcoming thousands of passengers each year with cruise company P&O confirming our region "is on the radar".

Each ship will bring 1500 visitors to our region and guests are expected to experience Fraser Island, Maryborough and possibly Bundaberg.

Travel expert Geoff Spark told the Chronicle he has been selling our story to P&O for about two years.

Mr Spark is the managing director of King William Travel in Adelaide, one of the biggest retailers for P&O cruises.

The liner's two newest ships, Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria are expected to be the ships of choice due to their smaller tonnage.

While no plan is certain, the Chronicle understands the ship will anchor in deep water where visitors could then use whale watching boats to get around.

"They've found some (deep) water near Fraser Island," Mr Spark said.

The Eden and Aria ships are slightly smaller at 56,000 gross tonnage compared to the larger ships at about 77,000 tonnes.

The smaller liners would be better suited to the shifting sands of the Great Sandy Strait.

Although he lives and works in the city of churches, Mr Spark visits his Hervey Bay holiday home about six times as year.

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.

But a P&O spokesman said the liner was constantly looking at new destinations for the two new ships.

"P&O Cruises has already opened up numerous regional destinations around Australia and continues to consider new opportunities," he said.

"The Fraser Coast is on the radar but any discussion of when this might happen is premature.

"Consideration of any new destination involves a massive amount of preliminary study and operational assessment."

While it is unclear when ships could start arriving to the region Mr Spark believes it could be toward the end of 2016.

Tourism and Events Queensland has come up to the region to survey the Sandy Strait and then lobby on behalf of Fraser Coast Opportunities.

Tourism councillor Stuart Taylor confirmed those results were positive and said the region would benefit from the expected visitor influx.

"We've been advocating strongly in this space," he said.

Cr Taylor said discussions between key stakeholders had been held in the Fraser Coast Discovery Sphere.