A Napier tour operator is concerned about cruise ship passenger cancellations due to coronavirus ahead of the Art Deco Festival.

Napier tour operator Mark Scofield is suffering after cruise ship cancellations ahead of Art Deco Festival. Photo / Paul Taylor
Napier tour operator Mark Scofield is suffering after cruise ship cancellations ahead of Art Deco Festival. Photo / Paul Taylor

With Chinese authorities placing travel restrictions in an effort to contain the outbreak, including suspending tour groups and the sale of flight and hotel packages for citizens heading overseas, Hawke's Bay could be affected.

READ MORE:
Coronavirus: Brazil confirms first case in Latin America
Coronavirus: Numbers show key shift in outbreak as WHO warns against pandemic panic
Q&A: What will coronavirus mean for NZ?
Coronavirus: Wuhan returnees released from quarantine at Whangaparāoa

Mark Scofield, owner of Napier bus tour company Decker City Discover, said he has already had six customers on a single cruise ship abandon their trips to Napier.

Advertisement

"On just one ship that is due later this month I have had three bookings of two people cancel," he said.

"I received another cancellation on Monday saying they'd travelled through Hong Kong and because of this are now not permitted to join the cruise, which would have stopped in Napier."

Focus Live: Ministry of Health confirms travel restrictions will remain in place with a surge in coronavirus cases in Italy and South Korea. Video / Mark Mitchell

The virus, which is thought to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan, China, has so far claimed the lives of 2269 people around the world, with nearly 80,000 confirmed cases.

Scofield said there were still 25 cruise ships to arrive before the end of their peak summer season. He had never experienced cancellations on this level.

"As an owner of a tour operator, we are always faced with challenges, but this is an unprecedented event in my time involved in the tourism industry," he said.

"I had not noticed any changes until this week. My main exposure to international tourists is from the cruise ships that visit Napier over the summer season."

Scofield added: "I can only now try to generate more local work to help cover any shortfall from the cruise ship booking cancellations. Luckily we have a point of difference with our Art Deco buses, which can help up a little bit."

Last year's Art Deco Festival attracted more than 40,000 people to Napier and at popular times there can be more than 20,000 people in the central city, with more than 300 events across five days at this year's festival.

Advertisement

In the year ending September 30 2018, a total of 57 cruise ships called into Napier Port.

Scofield said he was grateful that cruise ship companies were being "vigilant" overseas, but still worried about the spread the New Zealand.

"They're checking people now before they join the cruise.

"We all hope coronavirus doesn't make it to New Zealand, but now think it is possibly only a matter of time."

EIT executive director of international marketing Philippa Jones said new enrolments from China have been
EIT executive director of international marketing Philippa Jones said new enrolments from China have been "impacted" by coronavirus and travel restrictions. Photo / Supplied

meanwhile EIT executive director of international marketing Philippa Jones said new enrolments from China have been "impacted by coronavirus and the travel restrictions imposed", but was "pleased" with the number of international students for their first semester.

"We are of course monitoring the situation closely," she said. "Members of the executive and management team meet twice a week to work through the issues and to give support to students and staff.

"We are supporting our returning and new students who are unable to travel to NZ from China at the present time and look forward to welcoming them on campus when the travel restrictions are lifted."