Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan has said there is “no reason” why the cruise ban shouldn’t lift in April, signalling the return to cruising in Australia after two long years.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, Tehan said the federal government has been waiting for the states and territories to get the necessary health protocols in place and now that both NSW and Queensland appeared to be onboard, cruise holidays would be able to kick off again from 17 April.
“We just got to make sure the two states – NSW and Queensland – tick off on what their health officials say,” he said.
In February, Health Minister Greg Hunt extended the human biosecurity period for another two months on Friday, meaning cruise vessels will continue to be banned from Australian waters until at least 17 April 2022.
According to Hunt, there was an agreement at National Cabinet that the Commonwealth, NSW, Victoria and Queensland agreed to work with the industry to implement new protocols to enable the resumption of cruising over the coming months.
“Now that we’ve got NSW I’m pretty sure we’re going to have QLD on board, my expectation those protocols on the state level will be finalised in the next couple of days and my hope is Wednesday we’ll be announcing that it’ll be 17 April, that’s the last plank,” Tehan said.
“We’ll have tourism back to its brilliant best here in Australia, it’ll be wonderful for our travel agents and wonderful for our nation.”
The tourism minister said the commonwealth had been ready to lift the ban for a number of weeks, and that he had been pushing for the ban to be lifted for months.
“But we need the state’s tick off and they’ve been working with their health officials,” he continued.
“Obviously, it takes a few weeks or months for the cruise industry to be able to plan to get the ships back, but we now see absolutely no reason why we can’t make that formal announcement.
“All we need to do is dot the i’s and cross the t’s.”
Australia’s cruise ban has been in place since March 2020, following the Ruby Princess debacle which has been linked to almost 1,000 cases of COVID-19 and 28 deaths.
Featured image: Facebook/ Dan Tehan