Wel­com­ing sum­mer ships

The Northland Age - - Local Life / Opinion - Mayor John Carter

Last Sun­day the Ma­jes­tic Princess an­chored be­tween Rus­sell and Wai­tangi, in the Bay of

Is­lands. It was an im­pres­sive sight. At 330m long and 19 decks high, it has room to sleep, feed and en­ter­tain more than 3500 pas­sen­gers.

Its ar­rival her­alded the be­gin­ning of the sum­mer cruise ship sea­son that will see 15 ships visit the Bay of Is­lands by the end of De­cem­ber. Ships will ar­rive on an al­most daily ba­sis be­tween Jan­uary and April 2019, and it is es­ti­mated a record 137,000 pas­sen­gers will visit our shores this sum­mer sea­son.

The visit of the Ma­jes­tic Princess marks a new high-wa­ter mark for cruise liner tourism in the Far North. Cruises are in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar around the world, and ac­cord­ing to Tourism New Zealand more than 103,000 cruise pas­sen­gers vis­ited the Bay of Is­lands and Whangaroa Har­bour in the 12 months to June. That’s a 17 per cent in­crease on the year be­fore.

Since 2010, New Zealand has seen an av­er­age 13 per cent growth in cruise pas­sen­ger num­bers. The mar­ket grew by just 7 per cent per an­num glob­ally. Sta­tis­tics New Zealand tells us that the 103,000 pas­sen­gers spent over $14 mil­lion in the Far North, an in­cred­i­ble 79 per cent more than the year be­fore.

I was part of the wel­come for the Ma­jes­tic Princess, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Nga¯ti Rangi, Nga¯ti Kawa and Nga¯ti Hine, who pre­sented a spe­cially pre­pared carv­ing to the cap­tain. It was great to see Bay of Is­lands hapu¯ tak­ing ad­van­tage of this mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar tourism op­por­tu­nity by part­ner­ing with Princess Cruises, a lead­ing cruise ship oper­a­tor and owner of the Ma­jes­tic Princess. Bay of Is­land­sTa­ia­mai hapu¯ will hold Ma¯ori Mar­kets at Wai­tangi Marae for all Princess Cruises ships to show­case North­land Ma¯ori arts, crafts and trade stalls. These will be pro­moted to pas­sen­gers be­fore they dis­em­bark at Wai­tangi Wharf.

The mar­kets demon­strate the po­ten­tial ben­e­fits cruise ship tourism can bring to economies like ours.

In­stead of only vis­it­ing the usual tourist hotspots, these tourists spend time at more re­mote desti­na­tions like the Bay of Is­lands, Tau­ranga, Napier, Pic­ton, Dunedin and Fiord­land.

Like Bay of Is­land­sTa­ia­mai hapu¯, we are work­ing to make the vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence as mem­o­rable as pos­si­ble by im­prov­ing our in­fra­struc­ture in the Bay of Is­lands and sur­round­ing ar­eas.

Far North Hold­ings is build­ing a new ter­mi­nal at Bay of Is­lands air­port, and will spend $5m up­grad­ing wharves at Pai­hia, Rus­sell and Opua. Kawakawa’s fa­mous Hun­dert­wasserde­signed pub­lic toi­lets will be greatly en­hanced with com­ple­tion of Te Hononga, a new tourism and civic hub, and we aim to com­plete new pub­lic toi­lets at the Wai­tangi boat ramp and Wai­tangi Moun­tain Bike Park soon.

Sun­day’s wel­come un­der­lined for me how unique the Far North is, his­tor­i­cally and geo­graph­i­cally, for these vis­i­tors. Cater­ing to this in­creas­ing tourism in a sus­tain­able way will be a chal­lenge, but to­gether we can en­sure this whenua is pro­tected for ev­ery­one to en­joy.

"Sta­tis­tics New Zealand tells us that the 103,000 pas­sen­gers spent over $14 mil­lion in the Far North, an in­cred­i­ble 79 per cent more than the year be­fore."

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