13 Apr 2021

Cruise industry holding hopes for return of voyages in 2021

9:46 am on 13 April 2021

The cruise industry is pinning hopes that a meeting with government next month may help a resumption of some voyages this year.

cruise ship

Cruise Association chief executive Kevin O'Sullivan says the 2021-22 season could be viable (file image). Photo: Unsplash / Billy Pasco

The Cruise Association said the government needed to show support for the industry with an easing of immigration restrictions covering foreign crews and lifting the legislative ban on cruise ships in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The industry had expected 49 ships to visit New Zealand last season with 387,000 passengers contributing about $690 million to the economy.

Association chief executive Kevin O'Sullivan said the 2021-22 season could be viable with New Zealanders accounting for 10 percent of passengers and Australians 50 percent.

However, the upcoming season was far from certain, he said.

"Quite a few a things have to happen - there has to be a political will from government to enable crews to begin, and there also has to be a change to regulations to enable cruise ships to come into New Zealand waters."

There was also a concern that businesses which once served the industry were no longer operating or had adapted to serve domestic, rather than international tourism, he said.

"We need to make sure that they are still viable ... because it's really important that when the cruise ships come that there are businesses that are flourishing, that we can work with in order to make the visit to a port or region successful."

The cruise industry would be ready to respond should the government allow the launch of the next cruise season, which would get underway in October.

The industry would meet the minister of tourism next month to discuss the relaunch of the industry, O'Sullivan said.

"I think it's fair to say that he's giving us a good measure of hope for the future and he is certainly planning to lend support to tourism in general, in a variety of different ways."