On 17 April, the Federal Government’s cruise ban under the Biosecrity Act expires.
News that the ban will not be extended again was welcomed across the sector and beyond, Cruise Lines International Association boss Joel Katz calling the move a “huge breakthrough for more than 18,000 Australians who depend on cruise tourism, including travel agents, tour operators, food and produce providers, entertainers, port workers and many other industry suppliers”.
But, according to Katz, there is still much preparation needed before cruise ships could return to Australian waters.
“Cruising involves long lead-times, so it is essential that state governments and health authorities continue to work closely with the industry in the coming weeks to finalise detailed operational plans for resumption.”
Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Dean Long has called for clarity from State and Territory Governments as international cruise ships “must meet all state and territory public health requirements to be able to berth”.
“Even if everything lines up and the States and Territory Governments also green light the return of cruise, it’s going to take a couple of months for the ships to get here,” he said.
The cruise industry “has been on its knees” waiting for the ban to lift, said Flight Centre Australia’s General Manager, Kelly Spencer, saying that cruising was the hardest hit business segment within Flight Centre throughout the pandemic.
Flight Centre saw a three-fold increase in enquiries on all cruise product when the Australian border reopened for Aussies in November. Since then, enquires have remained steady with January and February this year showing a significant increase month on month to levels that rival pre-pandemic enquiries.
“For us, this illustrates that, despite the government ban, the demand for cruise is there, as is the confidence to get back on board ships,” Spencer said.
“With a confirmed date for cruising to resume here now in sight, we know that our business will continue to see a huge uptick in the number of travellers looking to book cruise.”
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