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Relief, optimism as cruise industry gets the green light

Cruise ships have been given the go-ahead to return to Gisborne after two years of closed maritime borders,

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced New Zealand's border would reopen fully to all visitors, including cruise ship visitors from July 31.

The move was welcomed by the region's tourism organisation Trust Tairāwhiti.

“We're excited to welcome international visitors back later this year,” Trust Tairāwhiti tourism, communications and marketing general manager Matt Cairns said.

“Over the coming months we'll be talking with local tourism operators and stakeholders to ensure we have everything lined up to offer authentic Tairāwhiti experiences for our visitors, and make the cruise season a success for our communities.”

New Zealand Cruise Association chair Debbie Summers greeted the news with a sense of cautious optimism and relief.

“Cruise lines can start confirming port calls and preparing ships with certainty.

“New Zealand is an important destination for cruise lines and with worldwide demand for cruising strong again, combined with excellent regional dispersal, this sector ticks every box for value.

“After two years of hardship, hundreds of Kiwi ship suppliers and tourism operators can start rebuilding their businesses, helping communities that have suffered during our pandemic years, and begin preparing with confidence to provide our top service to cruise visitors.”

Ms Summers said after such a long absence of cruise ships, opening the maritime border was only the beginning.

“To ensure the cruise sector is delivering a fantastic visitor experience will require a commitment and extremely hard work from ports, inbound tour operators, regional tourism organisations, local tour operators and the thousands of people in every region who work to make our immersive cruise experiences a success.

“The return of cruises will be welcomed by many communities around the country, especially those regions where cruise makes up a large part of their tourism like Northland, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Picton, Timaru and Rakiura/Stewart Island.”

Cruise NZ estimates the last cruise season, which saw 12 ships visit Gisborne, brought in about $6.6 million to the regional economy.

Eastland Group regional infrastructure chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum also welcomed the news, with ships already booked in for the upcoming summer season.

“We are looking forward to welcoming cruise ships back to Tūranganui-a-Kiwa with plenty of time to prepare for a busy season of 19 ships.

The first ship of the season is scheduled to arrive on November 17 and the last on March 20, 2023.

“Most ships are likely to anchor in the bay and tender passengers in due to the rebuild of Wharf 7.

“Once Wharf 7 is complete, the port will be one step closer to being able to safely berth two ships between 185 and 200 metres long at once.”

Silver Muse cruiseship