Venture study to look at cruise ships

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 08:07 03/10/2012
Cruise ship
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
The Cruise Ship Silver Spirit ferrying tourist ashore in Patterson Inlet, Stewart Island. Southland could benefit from the rising number of cruise ship passengers visiting the region.

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Southland could benefit from the rising number of cruise ship passengers visiting the region.

With 110,000 passengers floating through Fiordland and the south in 2011-12, a new study will determine the risks and opportunities the cruise ship industry presents.

Venture Southland has approved $10,000 in funding to assess the benefits and impacts disembarking passengers could bring to Southland communities and businesses.

Community Development team leader Bobbi Brown said the research, to be done during the 2012-13 season, would involve working with cruise ship operators, passengers, communities and businesses.

''The number of cruise ships visiting Southland has significantly risen with further growth projected,'' she said.

''There may be an opportunity to capitalise on the benefits of these increasing numbers.''

Environment Southland maritime manager and Cruise New Zealand committee member Kevin O'Sullivan said he was all for more people spending money in Southland.

But the environmental impacts and logistics of an increase in passengers disembarking in Southland would have to be determined, Mr O'Sullivan said.

''It would be good if Southland could tap into the cruise ship industry as an economic resource but the size of some cruise ships would challenge the facilities in a place like Milford Sound.''

Cruise ships varied in size with some carrying about 80 passengers while others held 2,500, he said.

''That is the population of Winton.''

Mr O'Sullivan said a small number of passengers got off the cruise ships calling in at Milford Sound and transferred to land based transport to meet up with their ship in Dunedin.

Stewart Island had benefited from the visit of cruise ships including the Volendam, a 1450-passenger Holland America cruise liner, Mr O'Sullivan said.

The island had appeared to cope with the cruise ship passengers who disembarked and spent money on the island. While cruise surveys showed Stewart Island was the highlight of many of passengers' trip, he said.

The Dunedin City Council's website said the city received nearly 88 per cent of all cruise ship passengers who visited New Zealand and estimated 161,000 cruise ship passengers would visit the city in 2012-13.

Each passenger would spend $125.

AT A GLANCE

● 92 cruise ships are scheduled to stop in Milford Sound, Fiordland in the 2012-13 season

● 15 cruise ships are scheduled to stop in Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island in the 2012-13 season

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● Cruise ships visiting Southland pay a Marine Fee to Environment Southland

● Revenue is used to pay for coastline management

● $1.45 million was generated from cruise ship visits in the 2012-13 season

● $1.9 million is projected to be generated for the 2012-13 season

● Without the Marine Fee, ratepayers would face a 26 per cent hike in rates

● The number of cruise ship passengers visiting Southland has increased from 6,300 to 110,000 in the past decade. Source: Environment Southland

- The Southland Times

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