Cruises worth $23m to Hawke's Bay


The Bay's luxury cruise season is being hailed as a boon for the region - with an expected $23.3 million injection into Hawke's Bay's economy.

Figures from Cruise New Zealand's new cruise economic impact report released yesterday estimated the 2012-13 season would also support 429 jobs in the region.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said she expected the figures would be slightly up on last year.

"It'll be quite similar to last year, as there will be fewer of them [ships] this year - but they'll be bigger," Ms Dundas said.

While this season's prediction stood at just under half of Tauranga's forecasted income, the Bay's industry growth had been showing a continual upward trend.

"The draw for Tauranga is, of course, Rotorua. People get off the ship at Tauranga and drive to Rotorua. It's a big selling point for them.

"Last year, there were fuel issues which meant ships were slowing down."

She said liners had also been staying in port longer, which was great for local businesses.

The report came just a day after the first of the season's liners, the Sun Princess, berthed at the Port of Napier, followed yesterday by sister ship the Dawn Princess, and today the Oosterdam. A total of 65 visits are scheduled through to March.

Yesterday's study indicated the overall contribution to New Zealand's GDP would be $327.1 million, and support 5633 jobs.

Cruise New Zealand said this represented growth of 13.2 per cent on the previous season, which contributed $288.9 million to GDP and accounted for 4961 jobs.

The 2012-13 report forecast a 20 per cent growth in passenger arrivals and an 8 per cent growth in both the number of voyages to New Zealand and port calls around the country.

As New Zealand's key exchange port, Auckland had the lion's share of the cruise sector's economic contribution at $114.9 million, accounting for 1755 jobs.

Other cruise regions, including Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago and Southland, were also expected to show significant levels of growth compared with the 2011-12 season.

Cruise New Zealand said the country's cruise industry had grown reasonably steadily during the past 15 years. In the 1996-97 season, 27 cruises brought 19,400 passengers to New Zealand. Last season, the industry grew to 121 cruises carrying 174,000 passengers, while the 2012-13 season was expected to host 130 cruises carrying 209,000 passengers.

If global trends were anything to go by, growth would continue, with reports of new ship orders and the potential and sustained strength of the Asian and Australian economies, Cruise New Zealand chairman Craig Harris said.

However, he warned that as ships get much larger and the Panama Canal completed its expansion project in 2014, New Zealand's port facilities may struggle.

"It is even more imperative for Auckland, as our key exchange port, to continue to future-proof its cruise infrastructure to attract more ships to start and stop their cruises in New Zealand," Mr Harris said.

"This activity adds to the value cruise contributes to our economy, as it encourages passengers to stay in Auckland before and after their cruise. It's encouraging that the Auckland port's stakeholders are continuing to evaluate these prospects."

Tourism Industry Association New Zealand chief executive Martin Snedden said it was critical that ports around New Zealand had the infrastructure to accommodate both the growing numbers of cruise passengers and larger ships.

"Cruise is one of the fastest growing sectors of New Zealand's tourism industry and we must work together to ensure we are maximising the value we extract from it," Mr Snedden said.

2012-13 is forecast to generate a direct national spend of $474.5 million, creating value add (GDP) of $327.1 million, and accounting for 5633 jobs.

The 2012-13 season is expected to receive 130 cruises making 756 port visits, carrying 209,000 passengers and 92,000 crew.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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