Port's cruise ship bid criticised

Cruise New Zealand (CNZ) believes the port of Timaru is off the mark in its attempts to attract more cruise ships.

CNZ is the industry body for New Zealand's cruise sector and its general manager, Raewyn Tan, outlined some areas in which she believed the port is not reaching the standard to compete in the cruise ship industry.

"The quantity and quality of coaches meeting the ships [when they arrive into port].

"There are not enough products such as tours being offered and it is not meeting the expectations of the cruise lines," Tan said.

To get the port and providers up to standard, more experience was needed, which provided a problem in itself, she said. "To get experience you need more cruise ships coming.

"The majority of our cruise ships coming to New Zealand ports are ranking their stops at 8.5 out of 10. So it's a case of don't fix what's not broken."

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But she was willing to work with member organisations, including PrimePort. However, the tourism body she worked closely with was Canterbury Tourism. Not much work had yet been done with Aoraki Development, Business and Tourism (ADBT).

ADBT chief executive Wendy Smith agreed the district faced a challenge in developing tourism products for a cruise-ready market.

"There is currently only a limited range of commercial cruise product available, with the capacity to accommodate such large numbers at one time," Smith said. The small scale of cruise ship visits to Timaru did not provide enough return for tourism operators, the port or the business community to justify big investment, she said. "We are not Auckland, nor are we Akaroa, however, we have all worked together to grow this niche market sector and will continue to do so," she said.

As a commercial container and break bulk port, Timaru had to balance cruise passenger-hosting capabilities with day-to-day operational requirements, Smith said.

"There is no simple solution."

"We are proud of the work that has been undertaken by a wide range of local businesses to grow the market and local businesses should not be discouraged by the unfortunate comments made by Cruise New Zealand."

PrimePort chief executive Jeremy Boys told the Herald he felt it was not a realm in which he should be commenting.

The Timaru Herald