Health Minister Greg Hunt has said he will review medical advice before lifting a two year biosecurity ban that has effectively kept Australians from cruising from Aussie ports.
According to many in the cruise and travel industry, keen Aussie cruisers have been circumventing the ban by flying overseas and boarding cruise ships from foreign ports, The Australian reported.
“You can jump on a plane and fly to the US and head to wherever, the Caribbean, Florida… people are booking for next year in droves,” Helloworld chief executive Andrew Burns said.
“People are scratching their heads wondering why they can buy a cruise overseas and not one here.”
Even if the health minister does lift the ban, a “double green light” will be needed for cruising to recommence in Australia, Hunt said yesterday.
“I expect to be able to make a decision on cruise ships in the coming weeks once we‘ve got the medical information, but it will require at least one state or territory to partner on that,” he said.
After the ban is lifted, it is up to each individual state and territory to each decide how and when ships can enter their ports. And given current border issues, this may not be as easy as it sounds.
First to the plate is NSW premier Dominic Perrottet who told The Australian he is all set to welcome the cruise industry back into Sydney Harbour once he gets Commonwealth and medical approval.
“The cruise industry is a very important segment of the travel market and we look forward to the greatest harbour in the world being able to welcome ships from around the world once again when it is safe to do so,” he said.
Clean Cruising general manager Dan Russell said Queensland, which boasts a new cruise terminal in Brisbane, should be leading the charge.
“We need state premiers to have the gumption to get on with it,” he said.
“At this point it’s not about the health advice, it’s a completely political decision…It is simply costing too many jobs,” he said.
While a spokesperson for the Queensland government said it is awaiting biosecurity advice from Canberra, a West Australian government spokesperson said the McGowan government would consider the possibility of ships returning when the state hits the 90 per cent double vaccination for people over the age of 12.
The delay could mean the country’s reputation takes a hit.
“It will unfortunately take a number of years for our international charterers and independent clients to have confidence in Australia as a reliable destination,” Ponant Asia Pacific chairman Sarina Bratton said.
“The government’s lack of a time frame…is pushing everyone’s patience to the limit,” she said.
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