The Courier-Mail

We need to get cruise industry out of the dock


IT’S TIME for Australia to have a serious conversati­on about cruising as a pathway to restart our once vibrant tourism industry.

In 2018/19, the cruise sector contribute­d more than $5bn to the Australian economy and provided jobs for more than 18,000 Australian­s.

The benefits of the sector are felt well beyond the capital cities with regional economies benefiting from the thousands of passengers who dispersed into some of Australia’s most beautiful regional towns.

Cruise passengers spend, on average, $387 each day they are on shore in Australia. The benefits are spread across the tourism industry with retail stores, tour operators and restaurant­s being some of the biggest beneficiar­ies.

But since the cruising sector has been docked, this lucrative tap has been turned off.

The cruise industry’s army of suppliers – farmers, travel agents, regional destinatio­ns, tour operators, hotels, restaurant­s, transport operators, live entertaine­rs, musicians and retail outlets – are all feeling the effects.

Any industry that can safely contribute to the post-pandemic economic recovery should not be overlooked. Cruising has a capacity to support a wide range of small businesses that need all the opportunit­ies they can get.

So why are government­s ignoring a vital industry like cruising that is ready, willing and able to restart and in turn provide a much needed economic stimulus for countless small businesses?

Perhaps the Ruby Princess caused them to go quiet. They need to recognise that we’ve all come a long way since then.

Thanks to the work of medical scientists and public health experts, we now have a much greater understand­ing of COVID-19 and the precaution­s we need to take. Not to mention that Australia is heading towards a vaccinated population.

If cruising can satisfy regulators with COVID-safe protocols, why not give the industry a chance to resume domestic cruises?

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