The Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism Kevin Hogan has called for the Albanese Government to take action to welcome cruise back and give the cruise industry more regulatory certainty.

His move follows exclusive revelations on that cruise lines are cutting back homeported ships in Australia despite rising demand because of what they see as overregulation and high prices.

Mr Hogan has requested the government take action on extending the Coastal Trading Act or it will “risk the billions in economic benefits the industry brings.”

Mr Hogan said: ““The cruise industry is worth $5.6 billion to the Australian economy and supports over 18,000 jobs.

“Exemptions under the act mean eligible international cruise operators do not need a licence to carry passengers to and from Australia reducing red tape. These exemptions expire at the end of this year after they were extended for only twelve months in December 2023.

“In 2018, these exemptions were extended for five years giving operators the certainty to plan and service the Australian market over a significant period of time.”

Essentially, the longer the government waits to extend the act, the more cruise ships could pull out of the region, at least cease from investing more resources into the Australian cruise market. This also applies if the government just gives it another 12-month extension instead of five-years.

Welcome cruise back

Mr Hogan also points out that this problem is only adding more barriers to an industry already in a rough period of Australia, quoting research provided to him by Cruise Passenger.

“Concerningly, the cruise industry is cutting capacity by up to 30% over the next two years. A range of leading cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line have downsized their Australian operations, and P&O Cruises Australia has just announced its final season ever.”

“The cost of operating in Australia, including port fees, fuel prices, and labour costs are alreadyhigher compared to other regions. A recent increase to port fees and charges in Melbourne saw cruise lines withdraw from that market.”

The Shadow Minister pointed out that cruising brings many benefits to the Australian economy and if it doesn’t work to make Australia more competitive in the international market, it is risking the loss of many jobs and damage to several industries.

“Cruising delivers economic benefits to the visitor economy as well as numerous other Australian industries such as farming and food production through to engineering and maritime services.

““Australia is competing against the rest of the world to attract international travellers and carriers in what is a fiercely competitive market.

“Whether it be by air or sea, all levels of government should be doing what they can to encourage and attract operators to generate the economic benefits a thriving tourism industry brings.”

Cruise Passenger is collecting names for a petition in support of a changes. You can sign up here.