Staffing levels a concern as cruise ships set to return

Enterprise Dunedin destination manager Louise van de Vlierd addresses the crowd at the Edgar...
Enterprise Dunedin destination manager Louise van de Vlierd addresses the crowd at the Edgar Centre about the return of cruise ships to Dunedin. PHOTO:PETER MCINTOSH
Buses are booked, ships set to sail, but are staff on board?

The tourism industry is set to take on the first wave of cruise arrivals into Dunedin since the borders closed, but concerns about staffing levels have arisen.

Those involved in welcoming the ships met at the Edgar Centre yesterday to discuss what new regulations and the reopening of the border will mean for the return of seafaring tourists.

Changes to the Maritime Border Order on Sunday mean foreign-flagged vessels may now dock at New Zealand ports for the first time since permission was paused due to Covid-19.

Members of the industry were excited for tourists to start sailing in. The first ship of the season, Celebrity Eclipse, is set to dock in Dunedin on October 26.

Enterprise Dunedin destination manager Louise van de Vlierd said Port Otago was expecting 112 cruise ships into the region after having one cancellation.

"We’re looking forward to getting back to what might be a new normal, and looking forward to having actual people back in town," she said.

Tourism providers had been recruiting people as drivers and guides, after staffing levels dropped because of Covid-19.

However, at this stage it was uncertain if staffing would be able to keep up with the increased demand, Ms van de Vlierd said.

At the meeting, New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive Kevin O’Sullivan cited "critical staffing issues" as one of the main concerns.

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