Cruise ship business is booming in Bay

By Roger Moroney

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Cruise ship passengers line up for bus tours, Marine Parade, Napier.
Cruise ship passengers line up for bus tours, Marine Parade, Napier.

For Hawke's Bay, and the cruise ship tourism industry, it is very much a case of business is booming.

"It is very much growing," Hawke's Bay Tourism Industry general manager Annie Dundas said, adding the buoyancy it brought the regional economy was set to expand given the rise in interest from cruise ship operators who had become aware of Napier, and Hawke's Bay's, appeal to tourists.

During the 2015/16 season there were 45 arrivals.

"This season we will do 55 cruise ships but next season it will be well over 70," Ms Dundas said.

The cruise liner companies effectively booked their schedules two to three years ahead.

"Napier comes up as the first or second best destination in the surveys they carry out with passengers - it is the welcome people get and of course the whole Art Deco thing is so strong - Napier does a great job with this."

It has been estimated that the arrival of 55 cruise ships to the region through until May next year will bring in around $20 million - with more than 70 set to call in the 2017/18 season that figure will accordingly rise.

"It is so good for Hawke's Bay and we know cruise ship passengers have a high rate of return so their first time experience is very important."

In terms of numbers, recent seasons have on average brought 80-100,000 visitors into Napier and the region and they spend between four and 10 hours experiencing what was on offer.

Ms Dundas said there was plenty of variety on that front.

"There are about 50 tourism operators involved with the cruise ship arrivals."

In a survey carried out toward the end of last year Napier received a five out of five rating in terms of being a desired destination, with 84 percent of passengers surveyed saying they had felt "very welcomed" on arrival, and while looking about.

It was the highest ranked figure of any New Zealand cruise port destination.

About 60 per cent of those surveyed said they would likely return again.

Ms Dundas said over the past decade as the cruise industry expanded Hawke's Bay had kept pace in terms of accommodating it.

"I think we've got it pretty good but there is always room for new products, and we have to make sure we can deliver it all well."

Maori culture, and telling "our story" in the Bay was one of the directions now opening up.

The cruise industry was "definitely a bonus" to the region and was on the up, Ms Dundas said.

News that more ships would be heading this way, with passengers often spending up to $200 a day, led Napier Port chief executive Garth Cowie to remark it was something now vital to the regional economy.

"On average every cruise ship brings an extra 2000 people into the region and that represents a significant boom for our local businesses."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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