CLIA pleas for urgent economic aid for Australian businesses

Cruise ban needed to stem losses suffered by Australian businesses

An empty Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay

The international cruise industry has called on the Federal Government to provide urgent economic assistance to local Australian businesses left devastated by the suspension of cruise tourism.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has lodged a Pre-Budget Submission highlighting the extensive losses suffered by Australian travel agents, tourism operators, industry suppliers and other local businesses since cruise operations were halted almost two years ago.

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The plea comes inside two weeks from when Health Minister Greg Hunt is expected to make a decision on either lifting or extending Australia’s current cruise ban.

The submission backs efforts by other industry bodies including the Australian Federation of Travel Agents and the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and calls for the government to finalise plans for a careful resumption of cruising in Australia as a first step towards reviving the country’s $5 billion-a-year cruise economy.

Celebrity Solstice docked at Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal

It supports calls for financial assistance for local businesses that will be essential in Australia’s cruise and tourism revival, and for the removal of Australia’s Passenger Movement Charge to help stimulate international tourism once borders fully open.

CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said more than 18,000 Australians relied on cruise tourism for their livelihoods and were increasingly angry at a lack of action to revive the industry.

“Cruise lines are not seeking financial assistance for themselves, but for the thousands of local Australian businesses that have been cut off from cruise tourism for almost two years,” Katz remarked.

“People in communities around our coasts have been left devastated by the government’s cruise ban and need urgent support until ships can return.”

Cruise tourism ordinarily supports thousands of businesses throughout Australia including travel agents, tourism operators, hotels and restaurants, transport workers, farmers and food suppliers, beverage providers, entertainers, technical support providers and more.

White Bay Cruise Terminal

“Cruise lines globally have committed to extensive new health measures in response to the pandemic, including testing and vaccination requirements before boarding and detailed protocols on board,” Katz said. “These measures are already in place and working in dozens of other countries where cruising has resumed, and Australia is now one of the only major cruise markets in the world without government plans for cruising’s revival,” he said.

“We need state and federal governments to commit to detailed plans for a careful, phased resumption of cruising in Australia, so that communities around our coasts can begin to recover,” Katz concluded.

Katz says currently, the earliest that Australia could expect to see a return to local cruise ship operations is June 2022.

The topic was reported on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair on Monday night [7 February 2022], featuring Dan Russell, General Manager of Clean Cruising and a number of tourism suppliers.

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