A valuable Jewel returns to Eden

Gifts and plaques were exchanged and there were smiles all around as the captain of the cruise ship Norwegian Jewel stepped ashore to meet with Bega Valley Shire mayor Kristy McBain, Port Authority officials and NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres.

Norwegian Jewel was greeted by emergency services volunteers, the local community and members of the tourism industry.

Cr McBain said it was pleasing to see the return of the cruise ships, something of benefit to Eden and the surrounding area.

"It's provides a substantial boost and we need to get a sense of normality back. I know it's a sugar hit, just for one day but it shows we're open," Cr McBain said.

"I'm grateful to the Norwegian Jewel who were nervous about coming to Eden but took the advice of the Port Authority that while there are still fires in some places there is still plenty to see and do for cuise ship passengers visiting Eden," she said.

NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said seeing the cruise ship passengers at Eden was a "strong signal".

"My presence here is about letting people know that while the fires are still happening there are places open."

Asked about the cost of the bushfires to the local tourisn economy, Mr Ayres said it was one of the most severe impacts on the domestic toruism scene.

"The cost is significant. We know that the summer months represent 40-50 per cent of annual revenue."

He said that more work was needed to get more ships to visit.

"We are working with the Port Authourity to make Eden more accessible. The Port Authority is looking at reducing the costs to ships to come in and looking at getting the shorter cruises to make Eden a stop," Mr Ayres said.

Around 2000 guests were expected to visit Eden and its surrounding areas on a series of tours and shore excursions, with Ben Angell, Norwegian Cruise Line vice president and managing director APAC, at the wharf to meet and thank local emergency service volunteers for their efforts and welcome Norwegian Jewel's guests keen to support the local economy.

"It is important to convey the message to the world that Australia is ready to welcome visitors. The cruise industry has become a key contributor to this region's tourism economy in recent years, and we've no doubt that locals are eager to welcome visitors to eat, drink, shop and explore Eden and its surrounds," said Mr Angell.

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