End of cruise suspension signals revival for thousands of Australians

April 14, 2022 - Australia will begin rebuilding its multi-billion-dollar cruise industry after this weekend, as cruise lines work to bring back economic opportunities for thousands of local businesses throughout the country.

With the two-year federal cruise suspension coming to an end on Sunday, cruise lines are preparing for a carefully managed resumption of operations in a sector that previously supported more than 18,000 Australian jobs.

The first international cruise ship to return, P&O Australia’s Pacific Explorer, will sail into Sydney Harbour on Monday morning in preparation for its return to service on May 31. It will be followed at the end of the month by Ponant’s Le Lapérouse which will begin operations between Darwin and Broome on April 28, joining local operators in time for the important Kimberley season.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said extensive new health protocols would allow a phased revival of one of the world’s most passionate cruise markets.

“More than a million Australians took an ocean cruise every year before the pandemic and we now have an opportunity to return to sailing and revive an industry that was worth more than $5 billion annually to the Australian economy,” Mr Katz said. “The end of the cruise suspension is huge landmark and will be celebrated by many thousands of Australians whose livelihoods depend on cruising.”

Cruise tourism supports employment across businesses including travel agents, tour operators, retailers, hotels, restaurants, food and produce providers, entertainers, transport providers, port services and other suppliers. It is estimated the suspension of cruising has cost the Australian economy more than $10 billion since early 2020.

“Millions of people have already sailed in more than 80 other countries where cruising has already resumed, with stringent new health measures in place,” Mr Katz said. “Cruise lines have done an enormous amount of work with medical experts internationally which has resulted in health protocols that are among the most extensive to be found anywhere in world tourism.”

Cruise industry health protocols introduced in response to Covid-19 span the entirety of the cruise experience and including vaccination and testing requirements for passengers and crew before boarding.

“While no setting is immune from Covid-19, the cruise industry’s new protocols provide among the highest possible levels of prevention, detection, and mitigation,” Mr Katz said. “With these measures in place, Australia now has an opportunity to begin a responsible recovery in an industry that has long been a vital part of our tourism economy.”

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