New Zealand Cruise Association – Chairman’s Report 2020

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Our LAC member, Debbie Summers, Chairman of New Zealand Cruise Association, has recently delivered the chairman’s report at the Association’s Annual General Meeting via a Zoom webinar. The insightful report highlights the status of the cruise industry pre and post COVID-19 and sheds light on the challenges and opportunities the current situation presents.

Below is the full report from Debbie:

Our 2019/20 season was projected to provide an economic value of $640 million (heading to a conservative NZD $1 billion within 5 years). We had 1000+ port calls scheduled carrying the most ever cruise guests to our country of 300,000+ and visiting more regions than ever before.  NZ Stats had put its arm around us and even MBIE were beginning to smile but then….…. tourism and in particular cruise experienced the sharp end of the outbreak of COVID earlier this year, due to existing robust health reporting within the cruise sector, we became aware of what was happening already throughout our communities. We ended our season after being completely disrupted throughout February in to March finishing March 15th.  

State of the Industry August 2020

  • Major cruise lines have self-imposed suspensions until end October 2020
  • Cruise line industry has been hardest hit, shut down earlier than most travel sectors and did this before regulations required
  • Australian cruise shipping industry is suspended until mid-September
  • NZ foreign shipping of which cruise is within, is suspended indefinitely 
  • We are seeing older ships being scrapped or sold
  • We have seen a few smaller lines heading into insolvency 
  • But we are seeing strong forward demand for cruising, with many lines securing major investment to see them through this no sail period, cruise markets are remaining fiercely loyal and there are restarts happening in Europe and world over.
  • Cruise lines have endured many obstacles to laying up ships, the most being repatriation of crew now almost completed but as the worlds travel corridors shut down this has been no easy task.

NZ specific Challenges

  • Whom to work with within Government to ensure progress, no easy task, we are in weekly meeting with MNZ to aid a phased re-start
  • Public perception continues to be compounded by negative media reporting
  • Supply chain survival a lot of which is reliant on borders, we need safe corridors with countries with zero community transmission (this is our Governments indication on whom we can do business with in the future) opening as soon as we are able.
  • We will still need time to plan, fill ships, we cannot just turn the tap on and have our industry back
  • So far we have 70,000 guests cancel and 262 port calls cancelled, we expect more.

What Opportunity is out there?

  • Fortunate in that we have a close safe source market Australia (heading that way at least) – 1 in 17 Australians like to cruise.  They made over 50% of our cruise market pre COVID.
  • Cruise lines looking keenly at our region for a safe & measured restart
  • Supportive industry networks have created strong alliances and collaboration thank you to TIA/TECNZ/CINZ/ACA/CLIA OZ – I want to mention TNZ for help with the cruise recovery plan.
  • We can stimulate travel, starting with some really immersive itineraries selling New Zealand to kiwis, already we have been surprised by the amount of domestic activity we have seen and a cruise is going to be real luxury holiday choice for kiwis.  We can have a longer season, longer calls, we can take people away from hot spots and also cruisers can be very easily contact traced if we operate at a different level than Level 1.  

I would like to acknowledge our Board all of whom facing immense pressure over the last months within their own positions yet have given time to our association throughout.   We have been meeting by ZOOM since lockdown frequently.  Due to the change in our constitution last year we were fortunate to be able to maintain the same Board for the coming year.    

Special thanks to Bruce Lochhead ex Napier Port, he sadly lost his position due to COVID and has stepped down from our Board.  We wish him well and he is greatly missed.  
Thanks to our CEO Kevin who tirelessly spends his days peering in to TEAMS/ZOOM forums, Webinars, phone calls, and has never once stopped pushing within Government to try and facilitate the badly needed safe start we can and should have.  Thankyou Kevin, you are a trooper and I know you wished to retire but the COVID put a stop to that also.  Every good person or association needs someone working hard in the engine room.  And this is Bethany Yee.  We want to publicly thank Bethany for her unfailing hard work and dedication to New Zealand cruise industry.  We appreciate you and we thank you Bethany.  

We need to harness our expertise, our passion and our economic needs to survive through this pandemic.  It is critical we take advantage of any opportunities to begin a safe, phased return to cruising industry.   We must as team of people connected by this great industry communicate our messages loud and far. 

  • It is important to remember cruise is not the source nor the cause of COVID.
  • CLIA is working on industry standard health protocols with medical experts, health and destination authorities
  • The cruise line industry is taking time to learn and be aware of the virus and how it can mitigate risk within the restart
  • We need YOU to stay with US.  Please do extend your membership.  Cruise will be back and will be one of the core sectors that can help NZ tourism survive these next difficult years.
  • Regarding our setback this week, we have gone in hard and fast again we can do this. 

Keep your energy levels up, be kind to yourselves and to each other.  Tourism and hospitality sectors are hurting so badly right now, our international industry is in crisis and this will continue for the foreseeable future.  There is strength in unity, we have been vilified in the press and we deserve better.  Please ignore the naysayers and negativity lets harness our energy, our passion, and the facts.  Aotearoa our beautiful country will be waiting for cruise to return.  The future of cruise is strong, it will be different and it is most definitely in our hands as to what it will look like.  Competitors standing side by side, suppliers working to help one another and all regions working as one. We are all on the same side.  
Kia Ora everyone

Debbie Summers
New Zealand Cruise Association
13 August 2020

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