Economic impact of sector doubles in just two years
Cruise visitor numbers into Wellington are forecast to be almost five times that of five years ago this summer, with the season set to inject some $32 million into the city’s economy.
Over 190,000 passengers and crew are forecast to visit Wellington on 83 ships in the 2011/12 season, compared to just under 33,000 on 28 ships in the 2006/07 season.
Positively Wellington Tourism Chief Executive David Perks says the tourism organisation and CentrePort have put a lot of time and energy into servicing the cruise sector’s specialised needs and maximising the opportunities it offers.
“Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) and CentrePort work very closely with Cruise New Zealand and cruise operators so that we can understand exactly what the sector needs and sell them on what our city offers. We then use this insight to help Wellington’s tourism businesses adapt their services and products to suit the tight timelines, logistics and specialised needs of the sector.”
PWT will continue to facilitate shuttle services for cruise lines without their own services this season, while recent completion of Wellington City Council’s $4 million Waterloo Quay upgrade – including a sheltered canopy, a widened footpath and pohutukawa trees – has enhanced the experience for visitors who opt to walk into the city.
New Zealand’s only dedicated cruise terminal has also had an external refurbishment designed by Wellington-based architectural practice Studio Pacific Architecture. It provides a fitting welcome to the coolest little capital in the world, says CentrePort Chief Executive Blair O’Keeffe.
“The introduction of a beautiful kōwhai design designed by Wellington designer Mary Adams is inspired by the iconic and indigenous kōwhai tree – a familiar part of our landscape that is brought to life on Wellington's doorstep as a welcome to its visitors. The passenger arrival doors will extend this welcome, with new bilingual signage, and will be integrated into the building's overall new look.”
Jo Coughlan, the City Councillor who holds the Council’s Economy Portfolio, says the economic impact of the industry has doubled in just two years.
"This is great progress which we will continue to build on. More cruise ship visitors results in a more buoyant retail and hospitality sector which means more jobs in Wellington."
A recent call for volunteers to help welcome and assist the record number of cruise visitors has seen an overwhelming response, Mr Perks says.
“In addition to CentrePort’s welcome team at the terminal, all of Positively Wellington Tourism’s staff take on shifts to help out. That won’t change, but such is the growth that we needed more hands on deck. Wellingtonians’ love and enthusiasm for their city – which Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2011 identified as part of what makes Wellington the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ – has certainly shone through.”
Some 60 Wellington City Ambassadors have volunteered for the season, which runs until April 2012. Easily identified in bright red uniforms, they will assist i-SITE Visitor Centre staff at CentrePort, the i-SITE and at mobile i-SITE carts at targeted spots in the city. The mobile i-SITEs were trialled last season and used to great effect during RWC 2011; they will be positioned at CentrePort, Brandon Street and the lower terminus of Wellington Cable Car on cruise ship days.
The Sea Princess is due to berth in Wellington at 8am on Sunday - the first of the season following specially scheduled visits for the RWC 2011 Quarter-Finals earlier this month.
Wellington Cruise Season 2011/12 Highlights
The First Timers
:: We’ll see the first visit from the 292m-long Costa Deliziosa (2,826 passenger capacity) on Thursday 16 February. This Italian liner will bring mostly Europeans and is its first time in New Zealand and Wellington waters.
:: A number of visits from the 293.2m long Radiance of the Seas (passenger capacity 2112). While Royal Caribbean International’s 278.9m-long Rhapsody of the Seas (passenger capacity 1998) is a familiar face in Wellington waters, this is the first visit to the city from Radiance of the Seas. This indicates a huge confidence in the Wellington market from Royal Carribean International and should deliver more lucrative American passengers.
:: Following last season’s inaugural visit from Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth (2,092 passenger capacity) will berth in Wellington on Wednesday 22 February. The Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth as ocean liners as we know them, harking back to the golden age of cruising. Queen Elizabeth is the second largest Cunard ship ever built, after Queen Mary 2. The passengers onboard are likely to be British and on a round-the-world voyage.