Far North booked out for eclipse
IT'S an astronomical event that will last for two minutes. At least 40,000 visitors are expected in the Far North for the 2012 solar eclipse, with some operators already booked out. Are you making plans?
But the total solar eclipse in two years is already proving to be the single biggest tourism event in the Far North’s history.
The November 14, 2012 eclipse will bring up to 60,000 people into the region with experts estimating at least $45 million could be generated for the local economy.
Tourism operators are wondering how they might be able to replicate the experience with some having received bookings as far back as two years ago.
The total eclipse’s path will be tracking right over Oak Beach to the south of Port Douglas, which is promising the best views for eclipse watchers.
Tourism Port Douglas Daintree executive officer Doug Ryan could not remember an event as big as the total solar eclipse, in terms of the amount of visitors it was going to attract.
A group of 52 visitors will be travelling to Port Douglas from the Himalayas especially for this experience.
"We know that 30,000 people went to the last (eclipse), but that was in a place that didn’t have our facilities and accommodation," Mr Ryan said.’
Advance Cairns has set up an Eclipse Taskforce to help co-ordinate activities and transport in the leadup to the event.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Rob Giason said the city’s resources would be stretched with about 40,000 beds available.
"There has been enormous world-wide interest in it, but Cairns is actually the best equipped place to cater for this,’ Mr Giason said.
He said the taskforce would examine opening up temporary camping grounds to cater for the influx of visitors.
Quicksilver Group spokeswoman Megan Bell said two of the company’s vessels had been booked out in advance, as well as accommodation on Green Island.
"The people who do follow eclipses are very passionate about it,’’ Ms Bell said.
"Guests also started booking rooms at Cairns’ Pacific International hotel well in advance, according to general manager Gregor Davie.
He said most of the guests were from Japan and China.
Solar Eclipse 2012 Festival organisers expect up to 20,000 eager eclipse watchers at the Palm River roadhouse between Cairns and Cooktown for a huge music festival and eclipse viewing.
And the first rays of sunlight reappearing from behind the moon will serve as the starting gun for the Solar Eclipse marathon being organised at Port Douglas.
Runners will see the eclipse from a private viewing area before the race kicks off at 4 Mile Beach about 6.40am.
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The sun's on the run: Ilse Longuet studies a structure depicting the movement of the sun. Picture: MIKE WATT