The cruise season has officially kicked off for 2017/18 with record numbers of passengers set to sail into Auckland over the next eight months.
According to Cruise New Zealand forecasts, Auckland is expecting 123 ship visits, bringing with them an estimated 300,000 plus passengers, and contributing $245 million to the regional economy.
Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED), General Manager Destination, Steve Armitage, says the cruise sector is a valuable contributor to Auckland’s visitor economy.
“Auckland plays a key role in New Zealand’s cruise sector as the country’s primary exchange point – where passengers embark or disembark from their vessel, and where the valuable re-provisioning of vessels takes place,” he says.
“Last year’s season for Auckland was slightly down on the one before, from a $220 million contribution to the regional economy in 2015/16 to $197 million in 2016/17. This was largely because of the withdrawal of the cruise ship, Pacific Pearl, from the schedule which would usually have visited Auckland 10 or 15 times.
“While infrastructure remains a challenge for Auckland, it’s good to see the 2017/18 shaping up to be a stronger season for the region.”
ATEED, along with the wider Auckland Council group, is continuing to look into solutions to support the growth of the cruise sector, including the proposal to develop an interim mooring dolphin which is currently on hold while further assessments are done into its design and feasibility.
The transition of Captain Cook Wharf to include a cruise facility is one of the proposals put forward as part of a wider long term city centre and waterfront plan. Captain Cook is seen as the best option in the longer term to accommodate the growing cruise industry and the increasing number of larger vessels that are arriving into Auckland.
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas will return to Auckland, with three visits in the season. Due to the vessels’ size passengers will once again have to be tendered to shore however, instead of being able to disembark from the port.
Cruise NZ’s report on ‘Cruise Tourism’s Contribution to the NZ Economy 2017’ states New Zealand’s cruise sector has been growing rapidly since the 1990s, at around 13 per cent annually nationally, which is almost double the rate globally.
The total value added to the national economy by the cruise sector for 2016/17 season was $447 million. The economic contribution is expected to grow by 20 per cent per annum over the coming two seasons, reaching $640 million by 2018/17.
However, according to the report, this rapid growth observed in cruise tourism, both nationally and in Auckland, and the growing trend of the cruise lines in developing and using larger ships, could be constrained by current facilities in future seasons.