Cruising to economic growth

Monday 1 October 2012, 5:04PM
By Tourism Industry Association New Zealand

With the 2012-13 cruise season about to get underway, new figures reveal the sector is set to continue its run of very strong growth in New Zealand.

Figures released today by the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) on behalf of Cruise New Zealand and research company Covec highlight how fast the cruise sector is growing its value to New Zealand’s economy.

Passenger numbers are forecast to grow 20% in the 2012-13 season, breaking the 200,000 mark for the first time, with over 208,600 arrivals expected to New Zealand ports. This follows a record-breaking 2011-12 season which saw 174,000 arrivals, up 28% on the previous season.

The Covec research shows that cruise passengers spent a total of $132 million on onshore excursions, visitor activities and shopping.

The growth in the cruise sector and the opportunities it presents will be a major topic for discussion at tomorrow’s 2012 TIA Summit in Wellington. Carnival Australia Chief Executive Ann Sherry AO is a keynote speaker at the Summit and will present the case for her sector.

“Cruising is a rolled gold opportunity for New Zealand,” she says. “The 174,000 cruise passengers who arrived here last season are the equivalent of around 330 full A380 passenger aircraft landing in New Zealand – almost one for every day of the year. And every one of those people are looking for great holiday experiences that New Zealand can offer.”

TIA Chief Executive Martin Snedden says large numbers of travellers around the world are choosing cruise as their preferred mode of travel and New Zealand’s tourism industry must do all it can to embrace the opportunities the growth in this sector offers.

“There are valuable opportunities for tourism businesses if they can find ways to connect with the cruise market. Ever shorter lead times are a real issue across the tourism industry but here are 208,600 visitors who we know are coming several months out, allowing us to plan well ahead for their arrival.”

Welcoming and hospitable communities will reap the benefits from cruise passengers, he says. Dunedin’s new cruise accreditation programme, and Picton where the ‘flower ladies’ present departing passengers with flowers, are examples of how communities can work together to encourage cruise passengers to spend time and money in their areas.

“New Zealand can provide world-class experiences for these visitors that they will find nowhere else. These unique experiences will encourage them to come back, as well as recommending New Zealand to family and friends as a holiday destination,” Mr Snedden says.

Cruise New Zealand Chairman Craig Harris says anecdotal evidence shows that people who have visited a region during a cruise will often return there later for a land-based stay.

Servicing the cruise industry also creates wealth for New Zealand and this is an area that can grow significantly, he says.

“Cruise ship facilities are being improved in several ports around the country and this definitely helps attract more ships. We also have to future-proof these developments – cruise ships are becoming larger and our ports must be ready to accommodate them,” Mr Harris says.

“In addition to the $132 million spend by cruise visitors, cruise companies spend well over $100 million a year on a range of New Zealand products, including food and drinks, fuel, port fees and crew support. There is plenty of opportunity for us to grow this spend.”

To read the Covec report, Understanding the Value Created by Cruise Tourism, go to

2012 TIA Summit
For more information about the 2012 TIA Summit, sponsored by Westpac, go to

Cruise Facts
Key findings on the cruise sector:

  • 108,044 passengers in 2011-12 were ‘transit’ passengers – they started and finished their cruise in countries other than New Zealand
  • 47,148 were ‘exchange’ passengers – they started or finished their cruise in New Zealand
  • On average, exchange visitors stayed just over three nights in New Zealand before and/or after their cruise
  • The average spend of passengers who stayed in New Zealand before and/or after their cruise was significantly more ($1128) than those who didn’t ($782)
  • About two-thirds of onshore purchases by cruise passengers were paid directly to New Zealand businesses, with the balance paid to foreign-owned cruise lines and travel agents
  • At 95,216, Australia accounted for almost 62% of cruise passengers to New Zealand, followed by North America (31,823) and UK and Europe (16,919)
  • Cruise lines spend money on a range of goods and services in New Zealand, including port fees, provisioning and payments to shipping agents