The cruise industry has shifted its campaign to get the government to issue guidelines for a return to sailings, recruiting travel agents to pressure MPs asking why Australia is the last major cruising nation without a restart plan.
The shift comes after the hugely popular campaign to persuade passengers to lobby MPs yielded an incredible 43,300 emails – but little tangible action.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan sent those who contacted his office a typically polite but ineffectual letter. You can read it here: Resumption of Cruising
Cruise Passenger contacted the minister’s office to ask what he was doing about helping expedite a framework for the return of international ships. We will bring you his response as soon as we receive it.
In Queensland, hopes are rising that a meeting may at last be held between the cruise industry and health officials in a state which has Australia’s newest and biggest cruise terminal. The Brisbane terminal was to have opened this season, allowing large ships from Royal Caribbean and Carnival to land passengers at Luggage Point.
Clean Cruising’s Dan Russell says Assistant Tourism Minister and state member for Cairns, Michael Healey, who helped work with Coral Expedition and APT’s small ship restarts, is organising a meeting between industry and Queensland’s CHO, Dr Jeannette Young.
Cruise Lines International Association Australia’s MD Joel Katz told us: “Australia’s four-phase plan to ease travel restrictions and other Covid-19 measures is now a key focus for CLIA and cruise lines and we’re working to ensure cruising is included in this process.
“Our priority now is not only to achieve a framework for cruising’s revival in Australia, but also to ensure our discussions with government lead to cruising’s inclusion in the national four-phase plan.
“There’s still much to be done, and the government’s plan is still in development, but we want to align all the work our industry has done internationally with the four stages envisaged by the government for Australia’s reopening.
“This should be highly achievable. The extensive new health measures cruise lines have adopted globally are already in place and working successfully in other countries overseas. Already around 600,000 people have sailed successfully under these measures, providing extensive insight and evidence as we work towards resumption here.
“We have already indicated to the Australian Government that we would like our ongoing discussions to align with National Cabinet’s commitment to create a four-phase plan, and we hope to address this in detail in the near future.”
The four-phase plan allows for foreign travel in the third phase – which would appear the most likely for a return to cruising.
Meanwhile suppliers and agents who travelled to Canberra to lobby the government issued a statement on last week’s news that the Canadian government has agreed to resume cruising:
“Canada is a comparable maritime nation to Australia and its decision to allow cruising from November 1 subject to its public health orders is a glimmer of hope that businesses and jobs that depend on cruising here can be saved. The planned restart of cruising in Canada and its resumption already underway in numerous other international markets underlines the urgent need for federal and state governments here to engage and agree to a restart plan for domestic cruising in Australia. Cruising is a $5 billion a year industry in Australia and supports more than 18,000 jobs. We are at the frontline of the devastation caused in Australia’s travel and tourism sector and we are looking for a signal from our political leaders that they want to help us save businesses and jobs, many of which have already been lost.”