NZ misses out on $550 million as Ardern keeps cruise ships out

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New Zealand Cruise Association is warning that New Zealand risks losing millions of dollars unless the Government can confirm as soon as possible when our maritime borders will reopen.

New Zealand Cruise Association says the continuing lack of certainty on the future of the cruise sector is also putting at risk hundreds of ailing tourism businesses that support the cruise sector around the country.

“The continuing silence from Government on reopening our maritime borders is squandering the enormous contribution that the New Zealand cruise sector could make in providing desperately needed revenue to help regional tourism operators survive into 2023,” Chair Debbie Summers says.

New Zealand has already lost 250 port calls and around $150 million in revenue due to the uncertainty on when the border will open. Cruise lines need time to plan their schedules for the 2022-23 cruise season and time is rapidly running out, Ms Summers says.

“More than 80 countries around the world are now open to cruise, including Australia. We know there is considerable pent up demand among travellers for cruise, but international cruise lines are unwilling to put New Zealand on their list because we are still closed.”

The impact will fall most heavily on regions which rely on income from cruise ships in the summer months, especially while international tourism is still recovering, Ms Summers says.

Prior to the pandemic, the cruise sector added $550 million to New Zealand’s economy – equal to the entire Business and Events sector.

“In the more than two years since our borders closed, New Zealand has lost over a billion dollars. This can’t continue. We cannot lose another cruise season without a serious breakdown in our ability to service all visitors to New Zealand,” Ms Summers says.

Cruise is now well recognised as leading the way with COVID health measures, she says. All passengers and crew are vaccinated and regularly tested, ventilation has been enormously enhanced and there are extensive proven health measures on board.

“The Government must announce urgently when the maritime border will open or we will continue to see yet more cancellations, and we will all miss out on the vital opportunities that cruise offers to our communities.”

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