JOEL Katz, Managing Director CLIA Australasia
Setting sail towards recovery
The cruise industry has always been an important economic contributor, bringing business opportunities to remote locations that might not ordinarily have a chance to welcome international tourism.
It reaches small communities in the South Pacific and isolated towns along the Australian coast, connecting people and creating business opportunities that leave lasting benefits.
Never is this more critical than in times of hardship, and after the devastating fires Australia has endured this summer there is a clear role for cruising in helping communities to re-establish vital economic activity.
As with the hurricanes of the Caribbean, the return of cruise ships to fire-affected locations in Australia marks an important milestone on the path to recovery, helping to revive business and restore confidence.
On 19 January, Sun Princess became the first ship to return to Kangaroo Island after fires. Locals put in an incredible effort to make activities and excursions available to the ship’s 2,000 passengers and set up markets in the town of Penneshaw to showcase some of the island’s famous produce. It showed that the island is open for business, still untouched in large areas, and still one of Australia’s tourism gems.
This was important not just for Kangaroo Island but also for the country as a whole. It helped send a message to the outside world that Australia is still accessible and welcoming for visitors, and that much of the country remains pristine.
The task ahead in reinforcing that message is huge, but one the tourism industry has been swift to embrace. Along with other tourism associations, CLIA has joined a national industry response group that is helping to ensure a united approach to recovery and a strong voice to government.
CLIA has also welcomed the initial $76 million tourism recovery package announced as part of the Australian Government’s National Bushfire Recovery Fund.
This will provide vital support as we work towards recovery and will help Tourism Australia reach international audiences as we spread the message that Australia is open for business.
Together cruise lines have contributed more than $2 million in donations to fire relief in Australia, but the lasting benefits will come as each ship arrives in each port across the country.
Cruise tourism is worth more than $5 billion a year to the Australian economy, and cruise lines are determined to maintain that impact as communities set out on the path to recovery.