A group of cruise suppliers have hit the nation’s capital seeking support for a pathway to enable the resumption of domestic cruising in Australia.
During a briefing at Parliament House, the suppliers met with MPs from federal electorates in a number of states that benefit from the economic activity generated by cruising.
Representing travel agents, tour operators, marine engineering services, fresh produce growers and entertainers, the group told MPs that their businesses were hit hard by the impact of the pandemic and were now looking for certainty to restore livelihoods and jobs.
Brisbane-based travel agent Dan Russell, who was one of the suppliers in the group, said businesses that relied on the cruise sector were “dying by a thousand cuts” with the rolling suspension of cruising in the absence of a plan to restart operations.
As the general manager and director of Clean Cruising, Russell’s family-owned-and-operated agency specialises in cruising and had 50 skilled employees on its team before the global pandemic.
Russell said he had to let go of 15 mostly younger consultants and the company was now battling to save its senior consultants, mostly women aged 40 to 67, who had built strong careers in travel over a period of decades.
“It is impossible to do any business planning with the rolling three-month extension to the cruise ban and no clear direction on when cruising will resume,” he said.
“Every three months, we expect a roadmap and we just get more uncertainty.
“We need a plan, we need clarity. We desperately need some ships to get up and running this summer. There are many skilled jobs at stake, which will be lost to the industry forever.”
President of Carnival Australia Sture Myrmell said the organisation’s seven cruise lines spend more than $100 million on food and wine per year, much of which was purchased by P&O Cruises Australia.
The group of suppliers also included Steven Biviano (Select Fresh Providores), Jay McKenzie (Bob Wood Cruise Group), Graeme Blackman (Inter-Marine), Graeme Gillies (Grayboy Entertainment) and James Bustar (cruise entertainer).