The Australian cruise community is calling on the government to follow Canada’s example by bringing forward the end of its cruise suspension.
On Thursday, the Canadian government said it would end its suspension on cruising early, giving a new date of 19 November 2021.
The country joins the US, the UK, Europe and parts of Asia where cruising has already resumed under stringent new health protocols and testing regimes.
Joel Kats, managing director for Australasia at the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said Canada’s announcement highlighted the lack of progress in Australia.
“Like Australia, Canada has taken a very conservative and risk-averse approach to cruising, but they’ve worked hard with industry to develop a detailed pathway towards resumption and economic recovery,” he said.
“By contrast, the Australian government has made no progress towards establishing a framework for future cruise operations, despite the availability of comprehensive new health protocols at the international level.”
Katz said 600,000 people have already sailed successfully in countries where cruising has resumed, bringing back economic opportunities for local communities while also maintaining strict health measures.
With these measures in place – including 100 per cent testing of all passengers and crew before boarding – CLIA has called for Australian governments to agree upon detailed plans for a careful domestic cruising revival.
“As Canada has recognised, it will take months of careful planning to revive cruise tourism,” Katz said.
“We need governments to progress urgent discussions now on how we can achieve similar success when the time is right in Australia and restore economic opportunities for communities around the country.”
A group of cruise industry suppliers who travelled to Canberra last month to call for a restart plan has echoed CLIA’s call, adding that Canada should be used as a model for resumption in Australia.
In a joint statement, the group said Canada is a comparable maritime nation to Australia, and its decision is a glimmer of hope that businesses and jobs that depend on cruising here can be saved.
“The planned restart of cruising in Canada and its resumption already underway in numerous other international markets underlines the urgent need for federal and state governments here to engage and agree to a restart plan for domestic cruising in Australia,” the statement said.
“Cruising is a $5 billion a year industry in Australia and supports more than 18,000 jobs.
“We are at the frontline of the devastation caused in Australia’s travel and tourism sector, and we are looking for a signal from our political leaders that they want to help us save businesses and jobs, many of which have already been lost.”
The group includes tour operator Jay McKenzie from Bob Wood Cruise Group, Clean Cruising’s Dan Russell, fresh produce supplier Steven Biviano representing Select Fresh Prividoring, Graeme Blackman of Inter-Marine, and cruise entertainer James Bustar.
Featured image source: iStock/Matthew Roberge