Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra and South Coast Gareth Ward is among many eager to give the first cruise ship passengers to arrive in October a big Wollongong welcome.
Mr Ward is throwing his support behind the IRT and Destination Wollongong Ambassador program to celebrate the maiden voyage of Radiance of the Seas into Port Kembla on October 30, 2016.
He said with just eight weeks to go that Sunday in October was going to be an extremely exciting day for the Illawarra and was a chance for the city to show what it can do in a thriving part of the tourism industry.
“The cruise industry in Australia is growing by more than 10 percent each year, and has for more than 10 years,” he said.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for the Illawarra to benefit from this growth, and ensuring that the maiden voyage is a major success is a critical next step in achieving this growth. One of the things I am immensely proud of is the passion and the pride that our community has in our region, and I am delighted that the Ambassador program has been established to demonstrate that passion to the world. I am very much looking forward to being part of the program, welcoming the first of what we hope will be many more cruise ship visitors to the city. If you haven’t already, I urge you to sign up to be an Ambassador and show the world how proud we are of our region”.
Destination Wollongong general manager Mark Sleigh said the early engagement with the ambassador program has already blown him away. Mr Sleigh said Wollongong really seemed to be embracing the idea and that filled him with even more pride about the wonderful seaside city. He said the excitement was really starting to build and was growing every day.
“We already have over 300 ambassadors signed up and we are hoping to get to 500. The maiden voyage of a cruise ship into Port Kembla is a once in a lifetime event. We’ve had such an amazing response to the ambassador program and we are looking forward to a fantastic day celebrating all that is great about the South Coast. Radiance of the Seas will be the first cruise ship to visit our region but it won’t be the last and we intend to make sure passengers have the time of their lives while in town. We want to inspire them to come back and to tell their families and friends about what the Illawarra has to offer,” he said.
When Radiance of the Seas will docks in Port Kembla Harbour as part of a seven-night East Coast and Tasmania tour on October 30 it will be the realisation of a visionary dream by Wollongong councilor Leigh Colacino who first knocked on Royal Caribbean’s door with his idea about bringing cruise ships to Wollongong four years ago.
Expressions of interest for the ambassador program close on September 2 and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by registering at the Wollongong Visitors Centre in Crown Street. The first briefing session for ambassadors will be held on September 30.