Don't expect cruise ships until 2022, tourism sector told

PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Despite the transtasman bubble being opened, cruise ships are still banned from entering New Zealand waters. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Dunedin's tourism industry is resigned to cruise ships not returning to the city until late next year.

Yesterday, a meeting was held with the local tourism industry in Dunedin to discuss the possible return of the cruise industry and how it may look in the future.

It was "most likely" cruise ships would not return to Dunedin, or New Zealand generally, until late 2022, chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise Association Kevin O’Sullivan told the meeting.

Despite the transtasman bubble being opened, cruise ships are still banned from entering New Zealand waters.

The association had proposed a staged re-entry for the industry, starting with New Zealand-only passengers, then bringing in Australians.

"If we can fly, why can’t we cruise?" Mr Sullivan said

That re-entry and a cruising return was dependent on the Government starting the conversation, Mr O’Sullivan said.

Chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise association Kevin O’Sullivan speaks to a group tourism...
Chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise association Kevin O’Sullivan speaks to a group tourism operators in Dunedin yesterday. PHOTO GREGOR RICHARDSON
He told the group if there was a conversation begun, it was possible there could be a limited restart this year.

However, that was looking "very, very unlikely" and it was more likely going to be next year.

The industry had met the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and was going to meet Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash this month.

The cruising industry had been unfairly targeted and the sector needed a better public relations strategy, local tourism operator Neil Harraway said.

Cruise ships became Covid hot spots last year, particularly after Ruby Princess, which sailed around New Zealand, became the source of one of Australia’s biggest outbreaks.

"I don’t think the public understands what the cruise industry has done to reset ... things like the buffet have gone, less guests and more testing on board.

"They have the tough regulations in place now but I don’t think that that message has got out," he said

Mr Harraway, who runs Monarch Wildlife Cruises and Tours, said before Covid-19 half of his business was made up of cruise ship and coaches.

Monarch Wildlife Cruises and tours could get through another "lean summer" with the Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP) funding from MBIE.

"I would like to see them come back safely and when people are ready," he said.

A spokesman in Minister of Tourism Stuart Nash’s office said the Ministry of Health had oversight of the border control mechanisms concerning cruise ships.

They said at present there was a domestic cruise industry, with a limit of 100 persons per ship.

riley.kennedy@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter