Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released the latest video in its #WeAreCruise series, featuring a local business owner voicing his support for a cruise revival.
Featured in the video is Mark Gilbert, owner of Hassle-free tours who was forced to let go nearly 60 staff members due to the suspensions of sailing.
The company is the latest to be featured in the series which aims to highlight the economic impact of the pause in cruise travel on local businesses.
In the video, Gilbert talks about his experience in losing 75 per cent of his customers that usually came from international cruise visitors to New Zealand.
“Since the total ban on travel in New Zealand, we haven’t really operated at all and it has had a huge impact on our business,” he said in the video.
“However, we are slowly seeing some coastal cruising start operating in NZ this summer which gives us hope of our industry being able to take small steps to restart.”
CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz said cruise lines had committed to extensive new health measures to support future operations, and that it was now vital to plan for a phased and carefully controlled resumption of local cruising.
“Thousands of jobs are at risk in communities across New Zealand and Australia, including in communities where cruises are an important source of international tourism,” Katz said.
“While the suspension of cruising has been the right response to COVID-19, it’s important that we plan a pathway towards resumption with extensive health measures in place, so that we can restore economic opportunities to regional areas and remote communities around our coast.”
The video is one of several to be released on social media in the coming weeks as part of a campaign that aims to raise awareness and tell the personal stories of people within the Australasian cruise community.
“Given New Zealand’s success in stemming the transmission of COVID-19, we see an opportunity for a controlled reintroduction of domestic cruises – restricted to New Zealand residents only and with extensive testing and screening measures in place,” Katz said.
“This will involve protective protocols against outside infection while borders are closed, and will create opportunities for economic revival for local businesses.”
Speaking at Travel Weekly‘s virtual Travel DAZE event earlier this month, CLIA’s global chair Adam Goldstein said he expected a gradual return to cruising was dependant upon certainty, rather than a specific government-mandated date.
“One thing I want to stress for everybody watching and listening is there’s not going to be a day where dozens or hundreds of cruise ships snap back into action,” he said.
“Getting the crew back in place, training the crew on the new protocols, getting the ships to the home ports, working with travel agents to motivate demand again, all that is going to mean a sequenced resumption so we’re preparing for that reality.”
You can watch Goldstein’s full talk at Travel DAZE 2020 here.