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New Zealand Cruise Association ‘devastated’ by Ponant’s forced pullout

Kevin O’Sullivan called on New Zealand government departments to work together
CEO Kevin O’Sullivan said the New Zealand Cruise Association was ‘devastated’ when Ponant was forced to cancel a season of seven fully-booked expedition voyages aboard Le Lapérouse because 61 crew members were denied visas.

‘New Zealand Cruise Association has been working for many months towards a restart in cruise, beginning with domestic cruising,’ O’Sullivan said.

Last moment decision

‘Ponant was granted permission to operate by the Ministry of Health, in consultation with other departments, in late December 2020, only to be denied entry by Immigration New Zealand at the last moment.

‘Many once-flourishing Kiwi companies country-wide dependent on the cruise industry are now even more concerned for their livelihoods.

‘Le Lapérouse would have safely brought more than NZ$6m to New Zealand’s economy.’

Cruel blow

O’Sullivan said this 'cruel blow’ will be even further felt by harder hit regional communities.

‘Now all opportunity has gone for this (2020-21) season and with it the small glimmer of hope that we all had,’ he said.

Call for departments to work together

He said New Zealand government departments must work much better together.

‘We deserve that as a nation,’ he said. ‘We must start working together to provide a pathway for the resumption of cruising.'

Reputation tarnished

‘This (Ponant’s forced exit) should never have happened and this has, sadly, badly tarnished our country’s previous cruise-friendly reputation.’

Wild Earth also devastated

Aaron Russ, GM of New Zealand’s small ship specialist Wild Earth Travel which is owned and operated by expedition leaders and had chartered Le Lapérouse, agreed.

‘We at Wild Earth are devastated by the actions of the New Zealand government in preventing what would have been a great opportunity for New Zealanders and Kiwi travel companies,’ Russ said.

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