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Stopping cruise ship visits to the Bay of Plenty amidst the coronavirus fallout would impact Rotorua's visitor economy, says the chief executive of a local tourism company.
A business expert says the Rotorua tourism market was particularly vulnerable due to a drop in international tourist stays.
However, he says the silver lining of Covid-19 is it has hit at the end of the peak cruise season and things could have been worse.
The comments come after cruise company Princess Cruises paused global operations of its 18 ships for two months, impacting voyages departing March 12 to May 10, amid the worldwide spread of Covid-19.
A Port of Tauranga spokeswoman said four Princess Cruise ships were scheduled to arrive by the end of the season, including the Ruby Princess on Monday.
While information as to whether any of those visits would be cancelled was yet to be confirmed, the spokeswoman said they expected those visits to be impacted.
Tourism Bay of Plenty's Kath Low said there had been three additional late bookings for cruise ships due to itinerary changes so far.
Low said industry members were meeting next Thursday to discuss the local impact of Covid-19.
Destination Rotorua chief executive, Michelle Templer, said cruise ship passengers were a "significant contributor" to the area's visitor economy, so a halt in cruise ship stops would have an impact.
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Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the Bay of Plenty tourism market was interconnected.
"The Rotorua tourism market is particularly vulnerable to the drop in international tourists stays.
"Whakatāne is particularly susceptible to a tourism slow-down as they are still recovering from the Whakaari/White Island eruption."
But he hoped Kiwis would choose to stay in the Bay during the school holidays rather than deal with the risks of travelling overseas.
Cowley said the silver lining of Covid 19 was that it had hit New Zealand at the end of the peak cruise season.
"While cutting our cruise season short is never a good thing, the situation could have been worse. All hopes are on things being back to normal by the next cruise season starting in October."
In the meantime, tourism businesses were feeling the pinch.
One business owner, who did not want to be named, estimated more than 120 people had cancelled their bookings during the next two weeks. That included 85 bookings from one ship.
"You might as well forget about the rest of the season," he said.
"We're just going to lose business and we're not going to make any money, we'll actually lose money. Hopefully, everything rectifies itself during the year and we can move forward."
Tauranga-based Amazing Day Tours owner, Bruce Remnant, also expected a slight downturn following a number of cancellations.
"It's a wait-and-see game," he said.
All customers had been given a full refund and he hoped they would re-booked next year.
Remnant said fortunately, the virus had flared up towards the end of the cruise season, which wrapped up mid-April.
He hoped there were no long term ramifications on the perception of cruising due to the coronavirus.
Cruise company Viking has also temporarily suspended river and ocean cruises until May 1 in response to Covid-19.
A media spokeswoman said there were no scheduled calls to Tauranga for the remainder of the 2019/2020 summer cruise season.
An Insurance Council of New Zealand spokeswoman said people were still urged to buy travel insurance as it still offered cover for other unforeseen events, such as injury or lost baggage.
People should also buy travel insurance effective from the dates tickets were purchased and not just from when the trip began and should research the different cover available.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade SafeTravel advice, New Zealanders are told to reconsider taking an overseas cruise due to Covid-19 as it could spread quickly onboard cruise ships due to the close contact between passengers.
If travellers chose to continue with their cruise, they were told to contact their travel agent or cruise operator for specific information.
The Cruise Lines International Association website outlined the protocols member cruise ships were required to put in place for the health and safety of passengers and crew.