Timaru businesses proactive in getting 'cruise ready'
With six cruise ship visits set for Timaru next year, businesses from across the region have been learning how benefit from the 'high-end' customers they bring in.
Aoraki Tourism held a workshop in central Timaru on Thursday afternoon to highlight to a range of businesses how to get ready for and make the most of the next influx of cruise ship visitors.
Aoraki Tourism Industry Partnerships manager Henrietta Hazlett said 31 people from a range of tourism, retail, transport and newly established businesses attended the two-and-half hour workshop, held at the Landing Services Building.
Cruise New Zealand executive officer Kevin O'Sullivan, who had been a speaker at the workshop, said he had been particularly impressed by the enthusiasm of the business people, especially around making Timaru appeal to cruise visitors.
"What really set the workshop on fire was when we got them [businesspeople] around a table and they generated ideas on what needs to happen in Timaru ... all of the attractions you can build up in Timaru.
"Every tourism destination needs to think why would anybody come here?
"That's the sort of ideas that were coming out ... what sets Timaru apart, it needs to have a point of difference."
Osullivan said the workshop in Timaru was "more interactive" than others he had been to around New Zealand.
"Having seen how well it worked I'll see if we can do this in other regions", we said.
"Napier set themselves around using art deco, every place has got something going for it that makes it different, and it's that point of difference that needs to be highlighted."
O'Sullivan said it looked likely that there would be six cruise ships visits to Timaru during the 2018/19 summer season, double the number in the last summer season.
The smaller cruise ships that were targeting Timaru as a destination carried exactly the sort of 'high-end' passengers the town would want to most benefit from.
"They are the sorts of companies, your smaller 'high end' ones, are the ones who are looking for new destinations.
"They don't just want to go to the larger ports ... they want new destinations, their sorts of passengers often are people who have cruised many times, are looking for new experiences, and new places to go to."
O'Sullivan acknowledged it was "disappointing" the port would be closed to cruise ships during the coming summer season, while PrimePort spent several hundred thousand dollars to install new high capacity storm bollards.
That bollards were being fitted to prevent a repeat of an incident earlier this year when Seabourn Encore broke free of its moorings in high winds, and collided with and damaged a cement carrier, the Milburn Carrier II.
"There are very valid reasons why this work needs to be done ... they are doing it really for the benefit of cruises ... this is not a quick fix, they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in infrastructure," O'Sullivan said.
The exposure that cruise ships would have coming to Timaru meant they might look to repeat their visit in the future, O'Sullivan said.
"When you are on a cruise, you go and you dip your ioe in the water, you go back and you explain to family and friends ... 'I really enjoyed this we are going to go and stay longer', we are seeing that more and more."