Moreton Bay’s humpback highway is open with Brisbane Whale Watching reporting hundreds of bookings for whale watching season, as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Economic Recovery Plan.
Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchcliffe, Member for Redcliffe and Health Minister Yvette D’Ath, and Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Peter Flannery, today officially launched Moreton Bay’s whale watching season and celebrated the silver anniversary of a tourism icon.
Mr Hinchliffe said this season marked 25 years of delivering whale watching visitor experiences for Captain Kerry Lopez on board Eye-Spy.
“Over a quarter-of-a-century, Brisbane Whale Watching, Captain Kerry and Eye-Spy have become icons of Brisbane’s tourism industry,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“The breathtaking sight of whales breaching on Moreton Bay was a popular visitor experience for many of the 1.5 million international tourists per year sightseeing in Brisbane before the pandemic.
“We know the closure of the international border has been tough on local tourism businesses like Brisbane Whale Watching.
“That’s why we’re encouraging Queenslanders and interstate visitors to reconnect with Moreton Bay and its magnificent humpback highway this whale watching season.
“Brisbane Whale Watching in its silver anniversary year is a great example of resilience and helping Queensland tourism to rebuild better.
“It was terrific to see Captain Kerry take the first booking of our Brisbane Holiday Dollars initiative and then benefit from a further 650 bookings, as part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Economic Recovery Plan.” Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath said whale watching season was worth millions to the South East Queensland economy each year.
“Eye-Spy has helped to build an important visitor attraction not only for Moreton Bay but also Brisbane Whale Watching’s Redcliffe base,” Ms D’Ath said.
“Brisbane Whale Watching employs dozens of locals and contributes an estimated $5.18 million to the Redcliffe and Moreton Bay economy.
“Whale watching has helped make Redcliffe one of South East Queensland’s favourite destinations for day trippers.
“We know when tourism is doing well, Redcliffe and the Moreton Bay region does well.”
Mayor Peter Flannery said visitors were assured of seeing humpbacks at their best in Moreton Bay.
“It’s this time of year that whales leave the Antarctic chill to give birth in the warm, calm waters off Hervey Bay – making Moreton Bay the best place to watch them play,” Mayor Flannery said.
“About 30,000-plus humpback whales are expected to turn out in force this season.
“With so many humpbacks on the move up the coast, we’re hoping for one of our biggest whale watching seasons yet.
“Moreton Bay waters off Redcliffe are the home-run on the east coast humpback highway and the place to see these wonderful creatures at their playful and entertaining best.”
Captain Kerry Lopez said the business had come a long way since 1996.
“I’ve watched whale numbers grow from just 2000 when I first started to over 33,000 today and instead of taking us an hour and a half to get out on the bay, it’s just 30 minutes now,” Captain Lopez said.
“Seeing a whale on TV is nothing like the power of seeing these majestic animals in real life, we regularly get grown adults crying and saying it’s one of the best things they’ve seen in their life, it’s a real bucket list thing to do.”
Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT) CEO Shane Newcombe said Captain Lopez’s success was a testament to the strength of the business.
“Celebrating 25 years in any business is a major milestone, but for a tourism operator off the back of COVID, it’s a huge achievement worthy of recognition and celebration,” he said.
“Whale watching in Moreton Bay is a key iconic experience in our region and a major contributor to our visitor economy.
“We are delighted to have had Captain Kerry Lopez at the helm, who has delivered a memorable experience to over 375,000 visitors during this time.”