Health minister Greg Hunt recently announced that Australia’s international travel ban would be extended until 17 December.
The news comes as a blow to millions of Aussies who are keen for some form of international travel to start again, but there was good news on the horizon, with the cruise industry revealing a four-phase plan that realigns its reopening strategy with the government’s vaccination targets.
Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) managing director Joel Katz said that aligning the industry’s pathway with the government’s national plan would help provide certainty for the industry.
He said it would also allow the implementation of the extensive health protocols developed by cruise lines globally in response to COVID-19, which are already operating where cruising has restarted overseas.
“This is about having plans agreed in advance so that we’re ready as conditions improve with the rising vaccination rate,” Mr Katz said.
“Our governments have created a four-phase plan to reopen Australia, and we’re now calling for our own four-phase pathway to be included in this process.”
Key goals in the cruise industry pathway are set against each of the four phases in the national plan, and can be adjusted to respond to evolving circumstances.
Current phase (vaccinate, prepare and pilot)
Agreement between governments and the cruise industry on a framework for cruising’s resumption and the implementation of the industry’s layered health protocols including testing and vaccination, with potential to pilot small domestic expedition cruises as health conditions allow.
Vaccination transition phase (~70 per cent of adult population vaccinated)
Resume limited domestic-only cruises within an Australian bubble, in line with the industry’s extensive health protocols.
Consolidation phase (+80 per cent of adult population vaccinated)
Achieve more extensive domestic sailings and begin carefully controlled trans-Tasman itineraries and other regional ‘bubble’ sailings when conditions allow, with ongoing health protocols in place.
Post vaccination phase
Resume carefully controlled international itineraries from Australian ports with ongoing health protocols in place.
Mr Katz said Australia was now the only major cruise market in the world where governments had yet to achieve progress on a framework for cruising’s resumption.
“Almost one million people have successfully sailed in countries where cruising has already resumed, including in the US, Europe and parts of Asia,” Mr Katz said.
“Cruising involves long lead times ahead of operations, so we need a plan in place now so we can work towards reviving an industry worth more than $5 billion a year to communities around Australia.”
What do you think of CLIA’s cruise revival plan? Are you interested in going on an Australia-only cruise or are you willing to wait for international borders to open again? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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