Yesterday, Ponant regretfully advised that its small expedition ship Le Lapérouse has been forced to cancel her season of seven fully booked expedition voyages in New Zealand for New Zealanders.
The New Zealand Cruise Association is devastated to learn that Ponant has been forced to cease its plans to bring Le Laperouse to New Zealand, offering local cruises for Kiwis only.
Ponant was granted permission to operate by the Ministry of Health, in consultation with other Departments, in late December 2020, only to be denied entry by Immigration New Zealand at the last moment prior to
arriving in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Department of Immigration declined to approve visas for 61 of the ship’s 90 crew. Visas were issued for 29 technical crew however INZ was not prepared to issue visas to the 61 hotel staff.
In a statement sent from the New Zealand Cruise Association, they said this forced cancellation is devastating not only to PONANT, but it will:
- disrupt the travel plans of some 650+ New Zealanders,
- cause up to $6m in direct economic loss to food, beverage, ground operator SMEs across the country supplying the vessel,
- eliminate income (again) from the New Zealand travel agency community, and
- be devastating to 16 Kiwis contracted to work onboard for two months, to lose their income.
They also stated many once-flourishing Kiwi companies country-wide are dependent on the cruise industry and are now even more concerned for their livelihoods. Le Laperouse would have safely brought more than $6m to New Zealand’s tourism economy.
NZCA CEO Kevin O’Sullivan says: “This cruel blow will be even more keenly felt within our harder hit regional communities. Now all opportunity has gone for this season and with it the small glimmer of hope that we all had. The industry has been abandoned by our Government.”
Mr O’Sullivan says New Zealand Government departments must work better together.
“We deserve that as a nation. We must start working together to provide a pathway for resumption. It can be done. This should never have happened and this has, sadly, badly tarnished our country’s previous cruise-friendly reputation.”
Kevin O’Sullivan, NZCA CEO Kevin O’Sullivan
NZCA has requested meetings with Tourism Minister Stuart Nash since he has taken office but requests so far have been deferred.
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