Cruise

Northern Territory lifts restrictions on key cruise market

A key component of the Northern Territory’s cruise market is set to return with cruise ship caps more than doubling.

NT’s Minister for Tourism and Hospitality, Natasha Fyles, announced on Wednesday that expedition cruise ships with up to 350 passengers and crew would now be permitted to operate in the territory.

Until now, the territory had banned ships with more than 150 passengers and crew.

According to Fyles, the cruise ship industry is a key economic driver and generated an estimated $60 million of annual expenditure within the territory pre-COVID.

She said this decision forms part of the staged re-opening of the cruise industry in the Territory, in line with public health advice.

“We are safely re-opening the cruise ship industry in a staged approach and look forward to seeing this industry return and grow into the future,” Fyles said.

“This increase to the capacity of crew and passengers on board domestic boutique cruise ships will be a major boost to operators and retailers.”

Joel Katz, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)’s regional managing director, said the NT is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to cruising in Australia, especially for the expedition sector which benefits many remote communities across the north of the country.

“The territory government’s decision is a welcome step forward and it highlights the importance of ending the  Federal Government’s ban so that international expedition ships can return to that region,” he said.

“As we work with other Australian governments to achieve a wider resumption of cruising, the expedition sector has great potential to offer an early return and bring immediate benefits back to coastal communities.”

One line which stands to benefit from the move is french small ship operator, PONANT which operates luxury expeditions in the Kimberly region, visiting Darwin.

“PONANT applauds the Northern Territory government‘s decision in leading the nation to allow our small expedition ships to once again visit NT waters and seasonally homeport in Darwin,” Sarina Bratton, Asia Pacific chair of PONANT commented.

“The international expedition sector is a major contributor to indigenous Australians along the Kimberley coastline, and significant contributors to the tourism economies of both the Northern Territory and Australia’s North West.

“We are now calling upon the Australian Government to immediately adjust the declaration under the Biosecurity Act to allow our operations in Australian waters to commence.”



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