The return of Australia tourism doesn't include cruising

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Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas in Sydney.
Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas in Sydney. Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

Cruising has been left out of Australia's tourism-reopening plan, despite what CLIA Australasia calls "extensive discussions between the industry and government."

The Australian government said it "continues to work with states and territories on the safe resumption of the cruise industry and looks forward to further announcements on this in due course." 

Australia said Monday that it would allow international visitors to enter the country starting Feb. 21. The current cruise suspension is due to expire on Feb. 17, but CLIA said there has been no word on whether it will be extended again. Most cruise lines have already canceled their Australia sailings for several months beyond the expiration date, CLIA said. 

"Opening up to international visitors is great news for the inbound tourism industry, but Australia is still one of the only major cruise markets in the world with no government plan for reviving domestic cruising," said Joel Katz, managing director for CLIA Australasia. "The cost to the Australian economy of the ongoing cruise ban is now approaching A$10 billion and we've still heard nothing from government on how we can move forward.

"We're now in the ridiculous situation where international borders are opening and Australians can travel overseas to cruise, but they can't sail domestically in their own waters. Before the pandemic, more than a million Australians took a cruise each year and we were one of the most prosperous cruise markets in the world."

CLIA Australasia made similar arguments last fall when Australia first said it was planning to reopen its borders to inbound travelers. At that time cruise lines expressed frustration with the continued ban, and some canceled their cruises until next winter, Australia's summer. 

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