After a two-year hiatus, cruise ships heavier than 91,000 tones will once again sail into South Australia from September.
- The Coral Princess will be the first vessel to arrive in Port Lincoln
- The industry is hosting workshops to help businesses prepare for the return of cruises
- Some residents are worried that it is too soon for the industry to resume operating
The resumption of operations in the industry, which is worth $143 million to the South Australian economy, is an exciting prospect for business owners eager to see the return of thousands of tourists, but some locals are concerned.
The Coral Princess – aboard which almost 130 passengers and crew have tested positive for COVID off the coast of New South Wales – is the first of the large cruise ship fleet expected at the start of the season.
Australian Cruise Association chief executive Jill Abel has assured South Australians that they will be safe when the industry resumes.
Ms Abel, who was in Port Lincoln for a convention with the SA Tourism Commission, said operators around the nation had adopted the Eastern Seaboard Cruise Protocols to keep people safe.
“Over the last 18 months there’s been an enormous amount of work being done with state and federal government agencies in terms of the health protocols that have been agreed to,” she said.
“We just flown into Port Lincoln, there’s no testing, there’s no mandatory vaccination for us to get into Port Lincoln.
“So I think that the cruise setting has one of the highest levels of settings to keep everybody safe and there’s no arguments with having those settings in place while we continue to navigate our way through this next wave of the virus.”
‘Looking forward to it’
Ms Abel ran workshops in Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island and Adelaide to prepare businesses for the return of cruising in SA.
More than 50 businesses attended in Port Lincoln to learn how they could maximise the economic benefit.
Grand Tasman Hotel assistant manager Mark Santos he said he learnt about the industry’s protocols, restrictions and product innovations.
“It is exciting in a way that cruise ships are back, it will bring a lot of opportunities for us to the region, as well as at my venue,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it.
“I will be able to sit down with the bosses and strategise on how we cater to the market.
Mr Santos said it seemed smaller businesses were concerned about how they could attract more tourists to their shops.
“The main issue brought up was how best to market their business, especially smaller businesses in Port Lincoln … how could they do correspondence or promote their services or products with cruise ship people.”
Lee Clayton, who works at the RSL museum, says he “can’t wait”.
“We get a lot of visitors at that time and we get a lot of money,” he said.
Too soon for some
But resident Orial said she did not want to see cruise ships return so soon.
“I don’t think they should be yet because of COVID-19 — the outbreak on the Coral Princess is exactly why they shouldn’t be coming here,” she said.
“We’ve got enough [COVID], I think.”
In a statement SA Health said it would work with cruise operators to ensure that any response to an outbreak minimised the impact on communities and health services.
“Operators will conduct COVID testing onboard and will manage cases and contacts onboard,” the department said.
“Passengers who test positive for COVID while onboard will isolate on the ship and will be cared for by the cruise’s medical staff.