New Zealand welcomes back first cruise ship since Covid-19 pandemic began | South China Morning Post
New Zealand welcomes back first cruise ship since Covid-19 pandemic beganThe Pacific Explorer docked in Auckland with about 2,000 guests and crew as part of a 12-day return trip to Fiji that left from Sydney. Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said it is a ‘step closer to resuming business as usual’ after the country lifted all remaining Covid curbs two weeks ago
Published: 8:59am, 12 Aug, 2022
New Zealand on Friday welcomed the first cruise ship to return since the coronavirus pandemic began, signalling a long-sought return to normalcy for the nation’s tourism industry.New Zealand closed its borders in early 2020 as it sought at first to eliminate Covid-19 entirely and then later to control its spread. Although the country reopened its borders to most tourists arriving by plane in May, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that it lifted all remaining restrictions, including those on maritime arrivals. Many in the cruise industry question why it took so long. The end of restrictions allowed Carnival Australia’s Pacific Explorer cruise ship to dock in Auckland with about 2,000 passengers and crew Friday morning as part of a 12-day return trip to Fiji that left from Sydney.Nash said it would take some time for international tourist numbers and revenues to return to their pre-pandemic levels, when the industry accounted for about 20 per cent of New Zealand’s foreign income and more than 5 per cent of GDP.“I think there’s been many people in the tourism sector who have done it hard over the last two years,” Nash said. “But we’ve always taken an approach where we need to ensure that we get the health response right. Because if we don’t, we know the consequences are dire.”Not everybody is happy with the return of tourists. A sail boat carrying protesters upset about the industry’s impact on the environment followed the Pacific Explorer into the harbour on Friday, before passengers were greeted with an Indigenous Māori welcome and a visit by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.