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Wheel boosts tourism trade

11 Feb 2014

Wheel boosts tourism trade Image

Docklands got a tourism boost late last year when the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel officially opened on December 23.

And it already seems to be making a difference to the Harbour Town traders who have held on throughout the wheel’s five-year rebuild.

Feedback from retailers since the wheel opened has been mostly positive.

Le Cirque Fine Foods owner and Docklands Community Forum small business representative Albert Morcos said his café had been busy since the wheel opened and the centre itself had a more positive atmosphere.

“In my opinion the centre now makes sense. We (the traders) are now part of a path leading to a major tourist attraction, rather than a path leading to a construction site.”

“I’ve spoken to a lot of tourists who have ridden the wheel,” Mr Morcos said.

“They don’t know anything about its history but have seen it as they drive in from the airport and thought they should come and check it out.”

According to a Melbourne Star spokesperson, since opening the observation wheel has welcomed more than 55,000 guests.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Peter Ryan was the first passenger to ride the wheel at the opening.

He said the Melbourne Star would further enhance Melbourne’s reputation as a leading tourism destination as well as significantly boosting Docklands’ economy.

“I look forward to the Melbourne Star attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors, enticing people to Melbourne from overseas, interstate and the regions,” Mr Ryan said.

The wheel’s designer and manufacturer, Sanoyas Rides Australia purchased the 120-metre-high wheel from ING Real Estate Development last year and it continues to be managed by the Melbourne Star Management Group.

Management group CEO Chris Kelly said the opening was an important day for Melbourne and Docklands.

“Melbourne Star offers more then a ride on a giant observation wheel,” Mr Kelly said.

“It is a significant tourism landmark that, through a host of exciting new features, will provide a new introduction to Melbourne and a new perspective on the city.”

But, in keeping with its tumultuous history, it has not been completely smooth sailing since the wheel opened for business.

One of the 21 cabins was taken out of service following passenger complaints on December 25 and 28.

The wheel also closed on January 24 after a software glitch halted operations.

A Melbourne Star spokesperson said the wheel was now fully operational with all cabins in service.

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is open from 10am until 10pm daily.

Prices vary from $32 for an adult to $19 for a child to $82 for a family (two adults and 2 children) pass.

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