Businesses must step up to lure cruise ships

South Canterbury organisations and businesses have to take responsibility if they want to get cruise ship-ready, according to a local tourism operator.

Te Ana Rock Art curator Amanda Symon believed there needed to be greater ownership for developing relationships in the tourism industry by regional operators.

"There are a lot of actors in the game, it's not just up to ADBT [Aoraki Development, Business and Tourism] to develop the relationship.

"Individual operators should be developing the relationships with the shore excursion companies themselves," Symon said.

Timaru offered variety to other ports in the country, she said.

"We are the only port to offer rock art tours in New Zealand."

Tekapo's Air Safaris chief executive Richard Rayward said the company already chased the passenger cruise market in both Timaru and Christchurch, through well-established relationships with the shore excursion companies.

"I think it is always important to develop relationships with as many people in business to do it correctly," he said.

During the coming cruise ship season Timaru will play host to four ships, which would bring in over 3000 passengers and crew.

Go Geraldine co-ordinator Janene Adams said although it did not currently target cruise ship passengers, or have relationships with the sector, it was perfectly set up to capture the market.

"We would definitely welcome them here but it's not something we have discussed," she said.

"Geraldine is a great town that people are drawn to; it has artists, food and craft. The atmosphere here is second to none," she said.

ADBT tourism manager Katerina Tiscenko said although it did not attend the Cruise NZ conference this year, it was always working on the relationships in the sector.

"We continue to actively promote Timaru as a cruise ship destination and work closely with our contacts in the cruise industry on key issues and organisational aspects regarding the vessel visits we host here," she said

Cruise New Zealand general manager Raewyn Tan said Timaru had some challenges to meet before it was able to be competitive with the likes of Akaroa and Dunedin's Port Chalmers.

Those challenges included a lack of tourism products, she said.

ADBT chief executive Wendy Smith said South Canterbury had a multitude of activities to offer.

Those included Geraldine, the Rangitata Valley, the high country stations in the Mackenzie, Lord of the Rings Country, and Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre. ‘Our excursions have been praised by the ground handlers who package them for the cruise lines and we are continually presenting additional options to them."

But Smith said the excursions needed to be selected by the cruise industry, which was influenced by a number of commercial factors, including what was offered at other ports.

The Timaru Herald