Iron ore port to become popular cruise tour destination

The mining town of Port Hedland in Western Australia's mineral rich Pilbara has ambitions to become a leading destination for cruise ship tours.

ABC News reports that the Pilbara coastal town, which is the chief exit point for the Pilbara's prodigious iron ore output as well as the world's largest bulk tonnage export port, is attracting an increasing number of cruise ships, four of which have docked at Hedland since last year.

The town's Mayor Kelly Howlett is spearheading efforts to promote Hedland as a cruise tour destination, saying that she feels "we are the 'it' destination right now" and that "cruise ships are keen to come."

According to Howlett the arrival of the first cruise ship in the town was "like securing the Olympics," and that in the past two weeks alone Hedland has welcomed two cruise liners, the "Radiance of the Seas" and "Voyager of the Seas," arriving from Bali and Singapore and bringing a total of almost 10,000 passengers and shipmates.

Howlett feels that cruise ships are a perfect match for Hedland, which suffers from a lack of onshore accommodation yet has a great deal to offer in terms of mining-related tourism.

Visitors to the town have the opportunity to take a tour of the BHP Billiton (ASE:BHP) iron ore Nelson Point mine, as well as view the port operations of the mines from up close.