Brisbane on the cusp of becoming one of the great urban tourism experiences in Australia
Anthony Hayes, COO SeaLink Travel Group
The Brisbane River is woven into the very fabric of Brisbane. Its history. Its identity. And without doubt, it will remain at the centre of the city’s very exciting future too.
I think every Brisbanite can see the opportunity that the river presents. It’s such an important part of the city for all of us and I think most of us would agree that we’ve hardly even begun to capitalise on the opportunity that the river represents.
We recently held our SeaLink board meeting in Brisbane to map out future growth opportunities and we are very much looking forward to expanding our business in Brisbane and South East Queensland over the coming years.
In the immediate future, we have rebuilt our SEQ three-year strategic plan around the potential growth of tourism to North Stradbroke Island. As sand mining on the island comes to an end, which is due to cease in 2019, we have a clear vision to grow tourism to the island - at a local, interstate and international level.
Brisbane is a truly unique city in Australia and North Straddie is just the most extraordinarily unique island. The opportunities are staring us in the face. We want to form a really close partnership with the Quandamooka people on the island and work with them to identify some of the great tourism experiences that are still to be created. We want to be respectful of everything that they offer and that they’re striving to achieve, and work in partnership with them to drive tourism to this great part of Queensland.
Step one is to make sure we have our product exactly right from Cleveland. Step two is to review the opportunities to connect Brisbane City to Moreton Bay via the river.
If you think about it, it could be a really interesting day out: Brisbane city, the beautiful homes along the way, the port and the industrial part of the river, then out to North Stradbroke for one of the most unique day tours imaginable. And then home to the heart of the city. It’s brilliant.
We firmly believe that we have only just scratched the surface when it comes to Moreton Bay. It’s such a beautiful, and accessible, part of the world. We’re really keen to look at the opportunities to replicate what we’ve done in other places in Australia and really grow that business over time.
And I think the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are all coming together now.
It’s exciting to see all of the new tourism developments in the heart of the city - Queen’s Wharf, Howard Smith Wharves and the Brisbane City Council’s River Access Network - plus expansion of the airport and the International Cruise Terminal.
Right now is the perfect storm. The timing really couldn’t be any better.
There is nowhere else in Australia that is as focused on tourism as Brisbane is right now. The developments happening around the city at the moment are quite extraordinary. There’s nowhere else in the country that is investing in the sort of capital that Brisbane is investing. And all of the developments are exciting because they all celebrate the river and they all point the focus of the city towards the river. We’re keen to be a part of that, which is why we’re looking so closely at local opportunities.
Of course the numbers have to add up and make sense, but we are certainly reviewing these opportunities with real enthusiasm.
The future looks pretty bright to us. This year SeaLink will host around 8.5 million customers across our various businesses, and I am proud to say our main business base in now Queensland.
I love Brisbane, so obviously I’m a bit biased about all of the opportunities we have in front of us. But there are so many ways to leverage what the city has to offer. What about a seriously good evening dinner cruise? What about more special events on the river? What about better connections out to the bay for whale watching?
We need to understand that Brisbane is on the cusp of becoming one of the great urban tourism experiences in Australia…and it’s about time too.