The shutdown of Australia’s cruise industry due to the coronavirus pandemic has cost the country $500 million so far, a figure that is projected to be around one-third of the total economic loss if the local cruise ban continues into mid-September.
According to an analysis commissioned by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, the current half a billion-dollar blow to the economy was measured up to the end of May 2020 and had it not been for the Australian Government’s JobKeeper program, the cruising shutdown would have cost around 1,700 local jobs.
Should the cruise ban continue until mid-September, the cost to Australia is expected to be more than $1.4 billion and threatens the jobs of more than 4,800 people, economic analysts and forecasters AEC Group found.
AEC Group forecasts that if the cruise suspension continues beyond its current date of 17 September and into the summer high-season, the economic loss to Australia would total a further $3.8 billion and place another 13,000 jobs at risk.
CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said the association had backed calls for the JobKeeper scheme to be extended for travel advisors and others in the travel industry.
“Cruise tourism is worth $5.2 billion a year to the Australia economy and supports more than 18,000 jobs,” Katz said.
“The suspensions that cruise lines and governments have enacted worldwide have been the right response as we confront COVID-19, but there is an enormous cost to those who make up the wider cruise community,” he said. “There are many thousands of travel agents, tour operators, ports and destinations, technical support providers, and food and beverage suppliers who support the cruise industry and are suffering enormous financial stress.”
Katz said CLIA had written to the Australian Government to reinforce the economic importance of the cruise industry and to request a JobKeeper extension for travel agents and the travel industry. In the meantime, he said cruise lines were hard at work developing extensive measures to uphold the health and safety of passengers and crew when the time is right to resume sailing.
“The cruise industry is taking a wide-ranging and holistic approach to planning for COVID-19 safety when sailing can resume,” Katz said. “While it is too soon to outline specific measures, the industry is considering protocols that will ideally entail a door-to-door strategy beginning at the time of booking through to when a passenger returns home.
“CLIA cruise lines are using this time to ensure we learn as much as possible from COVID-19 and develop the best possible response, so that the wellbeing of passengers remains our highest priority and the economic benefit of cruising can return to communities around Australia,” he said.
Lead image credit: A ship-less Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay, Sydney | Tom Hill on Unsplash