Three cruise ships bound for Timaru during summer season
Timaru needs to offer more excursions if it wants to capitalise on the economic benefits of cruise ship tourism, Cruise New Zealand chairman Kevin O'Sullivan says.
Three cruise ships, Europa 2, Maasadam, and Seabourn Encore, have confirmed visits to Timaru during the coming summer on January 12, 23, and February 12, respectively.
Last summer, Timaru missed out on an important opportunity, with no cruise ships visiting, O'Sullivan said.
If Timaru wanted to attract more high end cruise ships, which carry high end passengers who want quality products and experiences, it would need to focus on developing more visitor focused products, he said.
"Exciting places to go and things to see," he said.
However, O'Sullivan said getting three new ships docking at Timaru was a good start.
"Three's pretty good for somewhere that's not a large destination," he said.
Holland America Line, which owned the Maasadam, had previously withdrawn vessels from visiting Timaru, but this was only because it had rescheduled them to other international destinations, he said.
Seabourn was a new company seeking new destination-experiences for wealthy high end passengers and the Europa 2 was also very high end, he said.
"I'm sure these passengers will provide good revenue for the Timaru economy," he said.
"I imagine they'll look at deploying more ships in future," he said of all three companies: Holland America Line, Hapag Lloyd Cruises, and Seabourn.
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wendy Smith believed the key to attracting future visitors was to make passengers' experiences memorable so they were encouraged to return.
"When cruise vessels call it's important for businesses to be prepared with welcome signs, to know the nationalities of the passengers, and the times the passengers will be able to disembark," she said.