Launching some extra Magic in Cairns
AN experienced Great Barrier Reef operator today launches a new $3.5 million catamaran on the back of an imminent turnaround in tourism.
Tim North of Reef Magic Cruises said there was "a feel-good factor" in Cairns.
He said he planned months ago to buy and refurbish the 32m vesselbecause he knew the good times were returning.
"The Cairns economy is picking up, tourism is picking up," Mr North said. "When tourism is going right you have to be ready for it, not when it arrives."
Mr North said he had "a gut feeling" that the industry was on the rebound so refinanced and borrowed money to expand.
"I believe we now have the two best 30m cats in Cairns."
Mr North, who has 30 years' experience on the Reef and has owned Reef Magic Cruises for 16 years, said Reef Magic III would be used primarily for daily Reef trips while the existing Reef Magic II would be for charters.
He said charters provided a growth area. The boat was surveyed to travel 320km off the coast and anywhere in Australia. Charters included weddings, conferences, cruise ship transfers and film shoots.
"I've got a feeling I'll be doing four or five charters a week," Mr North said.
"We did 30 cruise ship transfers last year and we do quite bit of film shooting, such as Sea Patrol.
"I've had an inquiry for an 18-week film shoot. We're on the up, now's the time to move."
Reef Magic III was previously Fantasea Wonder in the Whitsundays and has 350 seats split over three levels with a maximum daily loading of 200 passengers.
It is powered by two diesel engines generating 1107kW and cruises comfortably at up to 24 knots.
Direct from Cairns it will reach the company's Marine World outer Reef pontoon in under 90 minutes.
Reef Magic II was built in Brisbane in 2007 and cost $5.5m and will be completely re-powered with state of the art Caterpillar engines and the on-board layout, facilities and water access points modified to become a self-sufficient outer Reef day charter vessel.
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Crystal ball: Director Tim North (front) and marketing manager Jeff Cameron-Smith show off their new vessel. Picture: MIKE WATT