A who’s who of Victoria’s tourism industry gathered at the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel in Docklands on March 12 for a ceremonial opening of the Southern Hemisphere’s only giant observation wheel, 10 weeks after it opened to the general public.
Chairpersons, CEOs, directors and senior management from Tourism Victoria, Victoria Tourism Industry Council, the Victoria Events Industry Council, Places Victoria, Destination Melbourne and Committee for Melbourne as well as the Deputy Premier of Victoria Peter Ryan, and Councillor Richard Foster, representing the of the City of Melbourne were among those who attended the celebrations hosted by Japan-based Sanoyas Holdings Corporation, which acquired the Melbourne Star in October 2013.
Mr Hidenobu Sobashima, Consul-General of Japan, Melbourne, Mr Masahide Yasuda, Chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, and Mr Mitsuyuki Takada, President of the Japanese Society of Melbourne also attended.
There was a Japanese theme for the occasion, with Taiko drums and Japanese banjo, or Shamisen, providing entertainment.
As has been traditional for 300 years within Japan, the symbolic ritual of breaking the Sake barrel was undertaken to celebrate a successful opening and bring about good fortune for the company and its employees into the future.
Takashi Ueda, President of Sanoyas Holdings Corporation, which is headquartered in the Melbourne sister-city of Osaka, told the gathering the Melbourne Star was the group’s first significant business investment outside Japan and one of the largest and most sophisticated entertainment attractions its entertainment and leisure division, Sanoyas Rides Corporation, was involved with.
“We are proud and excited to be the owners of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel,” he said. “We are intent in ensuring it will be seen as a world class entertainment and tourism attraction, one that is recognised internationally and one that all Melburnians are proud of.”
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said: “The Melbourne Star has already brought over 100 new jobs to the Docklands area, and we now have tens of thousands of people flocking to the area in what we expect will boost the Docklands economy.”
Since opening to the public on December 23, 2013, in excess of 85,000 guests have enjoyed a ride on the Melbourne Star.
The Melbourne Star is 120 metres high, equivalent to a 40-storey building, and the structure supports 21 fully enclosed air-conditioned glass cabins, each accommodating up to 20 guests. Guests enjoy an unobstructed 360-degree view of up to 40 kilometres as well as the Tales of Melbourne, a range of interpretative story panels and in-cabin audio that provide a wealth of information about Melbourne and its surrounds.
The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel is the first, more complex, solid steel wheel design to be built in the world to this size.