New Zealand shutdown impact highlighted in video series

A Christchurch tour operator is among New Zealand businesses voicing their support for a carefully planned revival of domestic cruise operations, as ongoing suspensions continue to impact regional economies.

Mark Gilbert, owner of Hassle-free Tours, was forced to let go nearly 60 staff members due to the suspensions.

The company is the latest to be featured in CLIA’s #WeAreCruise video series, which highlights the economic impact suffered by local businesses and the 25,000 jobs that are at risk across Australasia while the cruise industry remains at anchor.

In a video released today, Mark talks of his experience of losing 75% of his customers that come from international cruise visitors to New Zealand.

“Since the total ban on travel in New Zealand, we haven’t really operated at all and it has had a huge impact on our business,” he says in the video.

“However, we are slowly seeing some coastal cruising start operating in NZ this summer which gives us hope of our industry being able to take small steps to restart.”

CLIA Australasia Managing Director Joel Katz said cruise lines had committed to extensive new health measures to support future operations, and that it was now vital to plan for a phased and carefully controlled resumption of local cruising.

“Thousands of jobs are at risk in communities across New Zealand and Australia, including in communities where cruises are an important source of international tourism,” Mr Katz said. “While the suspension of cruising has been the right response to COVID-19, it’s important that we plan a pathway towards resumption with extensive health measures in place, so that we can restore economic opportunities to regional areas and remote communities around our coast.”

The Hassle-free Tours video is one of several to be released on social media in coming weeks as part of a campaign that aims to raise awareness and tell the personal stories of people within the Australasian cruise community.

“Given New Zealand’s success in stemming the transmission of COVID-19, we see an opportunity for a controlled reintroduction of domestic cruises - restricted to New Zealand residents only and with extensive testing and screening measures in place,” Mr Katz said. “This will involve protective protocols against outside infection while borders are closed, and will create opportunities for economic revival for local businesses.”

The video can be viewed on YouTube and Facebook.

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