The New Zealand Cruise Association has warned the country is at risk of losing millions of tourism dollars if the government does not give a date of when the country’s maritime borders will open.  

CEO Kevin O’Sullivan said that New Zealand has already lost around $150 million and 250 port calls due to the uncertainty on when the border will re-open and cruise lines need time to plan their schedules for the 2022-2023 cruise season and time is rapidly running out.

“More than 80 countries around the world are now open to cruise, including Australia. We know there is considerable pent up demand among travellers for cruise, but international cruise lines are unwilling to put New Zealand on their list because we are still closed.”

Before the pandemic, the cruise industry was worth $550 million to New Zealand’s economy, which is equal to the value of the Business and Events industry.

Mr O’Sullivan comments: “In the more than two years since our borders closed New Zealand has lost over a billion dollars. This can’t continue. We can’t lose another cruise season without a serious breakdown in our ability to service all visitors to New Zealand.”

The NZ Cruise Association also says that the lack of certainty on the cruise industry is jeopardising hundreds of struggling tourism businesses that support the cruise industry around the country.

Mr O’Sullivan says: “The continuing silence from the government on reopening our maritime borders is squandering the enormous contribution that the New Zealand cruise sector could make in providing desperately needed revenue to help regional tourism operators survive into 2023.”

The impact of the closure will heavily fall on regions which rely on income from cruise ships in the summer months, especially while international tourism is still recovering.

He adds that cruise is now leading the way with COVID health and safety measures, with all passengers and crew being vaccinated and regularly tested, ventilation has been improved and there are extensive health measures on board.

“The government must announce urgently when the maritime border will open or we will continue to see yet more cancellations and we will all miss out on the vital opportunities that cruise offers to our communities.”

Managing director of Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, Joel Katz said that New Zealand was an outlier amongst cruise nations with no confirmed date for the reopening of its maritime border.

Mr Kats said: “CLIA and the New Zealand Cruise Association have had very encouraging discussions with government agencies but at this stage, we still don’t have any word on when cruising might resume.”

He called on New Zealanders to contact Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other ministers to share their stories on how they have been affected by the cruise suspension.

P&O Cruises already cancelled its 2022 New Zealand cruise season which affected 21 departures from Auckland from July 5 until November 27.