Plain sailing for cruise ships as industry set to return to NSW waters
NSW is set to welcome the first international cruise ships back to NSW waters in more than two years. From 17 April 2022, the Commonwealth Government will lift the Biosecurity Determination which prohibits cruising in Australian waters.
Cruise ships were halted from entering Australian waters in March 2020 to curb the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Minister for Tourism and Sport and Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the return of cruise ships to NSW would be done safely, with important safeguards in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
“The cruise industry is a significant contributor to the New South Wales economy, an important part of our tourism industry and a major employer,” Mr Ayres said.
“I cannot wait to see cruise ships safely re-enter our state’s harbours and our local businesses welcome back those seafaring travellers.
“For the most part, a cruise experience will be a lot like it was before the pandemic, but we have put important protocols in place to ensure everyone’s safety, both those on board and on shore.
“Not only is this announcement important to industry and their passengers, cruising supports our tourism operators, hospitality industry and all those local suppliers who help with the enormous task of re-supplying ships,” Mr Ayres said.
NSW has led the charge planning for the safe resumption of cruising once the Commonwealth ban is lifted. This work has been done in close partnership with officials from the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments and cruise industry operators.
The priority for all the parties involved with the resumption of cruising is to ensure strong safeguards are in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, including to regional areas. The protocols include:
- All passengers over the age of 12 and crew will need to be fully vaccinated to board domestic and international cruises (as defined by the Commonwealth for international border entry requirements);
- All passengers and crew will be required to have a negative COVID test before embarkation and will require the wearing of masks at embarkation and disembarkation;
- Covid safe plans will be developed for all shore excursions, which will consider the specific needs of local communities, particularly regional communities;
- Covid safe plans have also been developed for disembarkation of any COVID positive cases and close contacts;
- Cruise operators will provide for a range of enhanced on board public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission, including information to travellers about covid safe practices including social-distancing, enhanced cleaning, and the availability for on board Covid-19 testing.
Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott said the hard working men and women on our ports are waiting to receive visitors with open arms.
“As a seafaring nation, cruising is synonymous with our way of life and with the return of these majestic ships, Aussies will once again be able to embrace one of our most popular holiday experiences,” Mr Elliott said.
“The protocols we have put in place are such that we are confident ships can return to our shores without compromising public health or safety.”
Before the pandemic, the cruise industry contributed an estimated $3.3 billion total expenditure to the NSW economy and contributed more than 11,000 jobs to the whole of NSW in 2018-19.
In 2017-18, 1.6 million cruise passengers visited Sydney, with the industry contributing around $1.54 billion to the Sydney economy that year.