Celebratory chef Luke Mangan has called on the government for a clear “pathway’’ to restart cruising in Australian waters.

“It’s going to take at least three months or so to get ships up and ready and to get them ready for people to cruise again.

“I know for a fact the cruise companies will only operate these ships and cruises when things are safe and done properly on board.”

And this means getting passengers and crew vaccinated before they can board the ships.

Luke Mangan
Luke Mangan

Mr Mangan was part of a team led by Carnival Australia who recently went to Canberra to lobby government officials for a clear “pathway” to restart cruising in Australian waters. This was on the back of the government’s decision to extend the ban on international cruising until September 17.

One of the first steps to restart cruising again is for ships to sail with a limited capacity of between 25 to 50 per cent, Mr Mangan suggested.

“Cruise ships do not want to start and close again,” he told Sky News this week.

He said cruise lines have been suffering badly since the pandemic hit and brought cruising to a standstill last year. The industry contributes $6 billion a year to the economy and employs more than 18,000 Australians.

The roll on effects of the pandemic and the closure of borders in Australia can be felt right across hotels, cafes, bars and tourist attractions. When cruise ships visit Sydney, passengers used to fill the hotels, cafes, The Rocks precinct and the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Today, business is deafeningly quiet, Mr Mangan said.

Prior to the pandemic, Mr Mangan operated seven restaurants aboard P&O Cruises ships including Salt Grill, Luke’s and Luke’s Burger Bar.

Today, he runs Glass at the Hilton Hotel and will reopen Luke’s Kitchen in October after closing it in Waterloo earlier this year.

His comments come as the tourism industry took a $85 billion hit as international visitors collapsed in the face of the pandemic and borders closure.

“In Australia, inbound international and interstate travel fell by 81% and 65%, respectively. The impact of the decline is dramatic – 7.6 million fewer international arrivals and 45 million fewer domestic overnight trips, resulting in a loss of around $85 billion in visitor spend,” said the latest market outlook report by Deloitte Access Economics.

International travel is not expected to recover to pre-COVID levels until 2023, the report said.