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  • Written by Janine Duffy

Cruising is a lucrative, growing industry with most of the cash filling the pockets of big players - but it doesn't have to be that way. Cruise expert Janine Duffy shows how local small businesses can get a slice of the pie, by answering 3 simple questions:

1. What do they need?
Cruise passengers are stuck in a well-appointed, luxurious cage for days at a time. Everything is costly or limited.
Duffy says: “When passengers get onshore they are desperate to spend money and they want to spend it with authentic local enterprises. What would you treasure more – a hand-made, one-off Aboriginal-designed plate from Wathaurong Glass or a cheap imported Tshirt from a mass-market store?”

2. When do they need it?
“That's easy” comments Duffy “from about 30 minutes after the ship arrives until an hour before the ship departs!”
Cruise ship arrival and departure times and dates are readily available here:

3. How do they find you?
Cruise passengers often emerge disoriented. Sometimes English is not their first language. Making yourself visible and convenient is the key to success.
“Don't assume they know anything about your city. Walk to the pier yourself – can your business be seen from the pier? Do they know you're open? What can they buy from you? A strategically-placed blackboard saying “Welcome Cruise Passengers – we are open and our burgers are great” will drive them to your door!” Duffy says.

Duffy's wildlife tour business Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours has been bringing cruise ship passengers into Geelong and regional Victoria for 18 years. She adds “On every tour I've guided passengers have asked for the same things. As a social enterpreneur, I am passionate about locally-owned business, but sometimes I can't find one to recommend.”
“The local economy needs and deserves this business so the region can grow sustainably.”

Here's a full list of what cruise passengers need: