Darwin has beaten rival cities to win the right to host a major Cruise Ship conference next year.

The who’s who of the cruise industry, including international heavy weights, will attend the Cruise Down Under Conference from 2-4 September in Darwin in 2015.

Darwin’s winning bid was announced at this year’s conference in Perth.

“The Cruise Down Under Conference will attract around 120 delegates from the cruise sector, including cruise line executives, ground handlers, ship supplier agents and representatives from ports and tourism offices around Australia,” said Tourism Minister Matt Conlan.

“This is a great opportunity to bring important cruise ship decision makers to our shores.

“The cruise ship sector is a vital part of our tourism industry.

“Our cruise season, from October to March, helps balance out the Top End tourism industry’s seasonality and gives Darwin restaurants, cafes, retail outlets and tourist attractions an economic boost in what are traditionally their slowest months.”

In 2013-14, the cruise ship sector contributed an estimated $54million to the NT economy, including approximately $9m in passenger and crew expenditure, according to Cruise Down Under.

“The first large cruise ship for our next season is scheduled in port on 23 October, and it will flag the start of another bumper season,” Minister Conlan said.

“The first week of March will be Darwin’s busiest cruise week on record in terms of passenger numbers with six cruise ships scheduled to visit over five consecutive days with a maximum capacity of more than 11,000 passengers in total. The week will see four of the largest cruise ships to sail in Australian waters stop in Darwin including the Queen Mary 2 (2670 passengers) on 3 March and the Celebrity Solstice (2850 passengers) on 5 March.

“Current bookings over the coming season indicate we will be greeting more than 40,000 cruise passengers into Darwin this wet season.”

The Cruise Down Under Conference is scheduled to be held at the Elan Soho Suites in Darwin 2-4 September 2015. It is supported jointly by Tourism NT, Tourism Top End and the Darwin Port Corporation.

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