WHAT a difference a day makes: the weather at Mornington pier on Monday at 10.30am was wet and cold with a blustery southwesterly whipping up Port Phillip. Not the day for a visit…
By Tuesday morning, the sun was out, the water calm and passengers from the cruise liner Pacific Pearl could walk comfortably up Main St in shirtsleeves to sample the town’s delights.
Thank heavens for Melbourne’s changeable weather.
Mornington Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Kim Rowe said most of the 1500-odd passengers to disembark stayed in the town rather than being bussed to tourism hotspots around the peninsula. “They landed here and they will probably stay here,” Ms Rowe said. “There’s a lot to see and do in the town and they’re going to make the most of it.”
Pacific Pearl was the first cruise liner to call at Mornington, with expectations of five more P&O visits over the next 12 months. On Wednesday 18 March the cruise ship will again visit, steaming straight from Sydney and returning over a four-day cruise with another 1800 passengers.
Next January, the new Pacific Eden will call at Mornington twice and Pacific Jewel will visit in March.
Regional ports Esperance and Busselton in Western Australia will join the growing line-up of stopovers in the months to come. Others places to be visited include Port Lincoln in South Australia, Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and Burnie and Port Arthur in Tasmania.
Mornington Peninsula mayor Cr Bev Colomb welcomed the passengers’ arrival on Tuesday. She visited the harbour and Main St, saying the area was a popular spot for both locals and the visitors. “The town was really vibrant, and felt alive,” she said.
“We should be very proud of what our town has to offer and the activities that were presented for our day visitors. The market atmosphere and welcoming ambience was really wonderful to experience.”
She also acknowledged the chamber of commerce, and the broader business and tourism sector on the peninsula, for helping make the visit of a success.
“I hope the visitors to the beautiful Mornington Peninsula from Pacific Pearl enjoyed all we have to offer on the peninsula.
“Cruise visits are a great way to showcase our destination and the activities and attractions of the Mornington Peninsula.
“On behalf of the council I look forward to welcoming Pacific Pearl and her passengers when she visits again in March.”
Ms Rowe said the overall effects of the visit might take years to impact on the town, as liners make return visits and word-of-mouth recommendations among passengers spreads.
“It will be slow and steady but it will be positive,” she said. “There may be other boats from different cruise lines coming and we will welcome them all.
“Also, there will be different demographics on board who will have different spending patterns.”
Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism board chairman Tracey Cooper said from all accounts the day went very well. “The Tourism Victoria team was glowing in praise of the effort businesses went to welcome the passengers,” she said. “It is a wonderful thing to have such a passionate and open group of businesses. We are now looking at ways to improve the experience and ensure the next visit is even better.”
Some Main St traders had mixed views of the visit’s tourism benefits, commenting on the high average age of passengers. Most shops reported little to no extra activity “with the exception of St Vinny’s, which had a record day selling out of woollen jumpers as passengers didn’t bring enough woollies with them”, one Vinny’s staff member said.
Popular tours were reportedly Mornington Explorer bus tour, Peninsula Hot Springs, Enchanted Adventure Garden, sand sculpting, and Manyung Gallery in Mt Eliza.