Far North cruise industry cops $76m hit

THE Queensland economy has suffered an $832m blow since cruising was cut in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis.

And with passenger ships regularly visiting five ports from Cairns to Thursday Island before the pandemic, it was calculated $76.6m had already been sucked from Far North settlements.

A report commissioned by the Cruise Lines International Association and Australian Cruise Association said the suspension of cruising cost Australia $2bn between March and July with regional communities hit hard.

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"The impact is felt by the many thousands of small businesses that rely on a thriving cruise industry," CLIA managing director Joel Katz said.

"This includes travel agents, fresh food suppliers, tour operators, hotels, bus companies, baggage handlers and Aussie entertainers."

Cairns tour guide Susan Rees was just one Far North local to lose months of work when the ships stopped calling.

"A ship that has over 2000 passengers would probably employ 20 guides a day to lead shore excursions around the region," she said.

"Our port days in Cairns, Yorkeys Knob and Port Douglas were around 95 days a year, so that is a significant loss for guides.

"A lot of the guides in the Far North are part-time so have lost all their income."

Ms Rees, who also works as a port agent, said it was "more than that" with "cruising bringing millions and millions" into our economy.

"The crew will go to Target and Kmart, they will go to DFO to buy new shoes, and will go out for a drink when they have a few hours off," she said.

"And passengers don't always rush back to the ship for the free meal, a lot will eat in the port as well."

Originally published as Far North cruise industry cops $76m hit


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