2012 solar eclipse will bring tourist bonanza to Far North
TOUR operators are sending their scouts to the Far North more than a year in advance so they can snare the best spots, accommodation and other activities to watch the 2012 solar eclipse. Are you making plans?
At least 50,000 people are expected to travel to the region, which is regarded as one of the best places in the world to view the eclipse on November 14, 2012.
Tourism Tropical North Queensland director of Japan Harry Niihori has already taken five Japanese inbound operators to Kuranda for a site inspection.
Accommodation providers have been booked out as much as three years in advance by people keen to catch a glimpse of the one-in-500 year event.
The eclipse has been identified as being the darkest for the longest at Oak Beach, between Cairns and Port Douglas.
All 83 rooms at the Thala Beach Lodge at Oak Beach are already booked out.
Lodge manager Johan Klindt said there had even a forward party of guests staying there last year on November 14, to ensure viewing conditions would be optimum for the same time next year.
"We’ve still got inquiries for rooms flooding in, probably six to 10 requests a week," Mr Klindt said.
"I don’t think anyone really knows what’s coming, it’s going to be huge."
More than 1000 Japanese travellers are expected to flock to the region for the eclipse. Tours are expected to be finalised soon and travel agents are starting to sell packages.
Eclipse taskforce co-ordinator Margaret Darveniza said other top spots were the Tableland, Palmer River and Cooktown, where cloud cover is expected to be less than on the coast and for the "diamond ring" effect on the coast between the Daintree and Innisfail.
She said with accommodation expected to be booked out, the only alternative would be
Ms Darveniza said Solar Eclipse 2012 Festival organisers were hoping for up to 20,000 people at the Palmer River roadhouse between Cairns and Cooktown for a music festival and eclipse viewing. She said they were considering opening a second large camp site to cater for the
She said almost all the cruises were booked out as well as many of the Reef tour vessels.
"Most of the hotels are booked out and even small caravan parks such as Mt Molloy are starting to fill up fast," she said.
Ms Darveniza said special charter flights to bring viewers in from Asia and the US were possibilities.
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Spectacular: The Cairns region will be one of the best places in the world to watch the November 2012 solar eclipse.