Published: 28 February 2023
The impact of Cyclone Gabrielle has been devastating for the Hawke’s Bay region and these are challenging times for our community. The road to recovery is going to be long and hard, but following the incredible efforts of the region’s emergency response over the last fortnight parts of Hawke’s Bay are now in a position to start shifting into the recovery stage of the disaster.
Mayor Kirsten Wise said a priority for Napier’s own recovery is to actively support the local economy and in turn help families and communities get back on their feet.
“Tourism and specifically cruise tourism has a vitally important role to play in our region’s recovery. Today, I’m pleased to confirm cruise will re-start to Napier from Monday 6 March, after Cyclone Gabrielle saw the immediate pause of cruise ships calling at Napier Port,” said Wise.
Alongside Napier Port and Hawke’s Bay Tourism, Napier City Council has been working hard with tourist operators and key stakeholders to enable a safe and staged approach to the resumption of cruise.
“The immediate economic boost that tourism can bring to Napier, and our CBD businesses in particular, is immensely valuable as other significant contributors to our economy, including our primary sector, recover from the damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle,” added Wise.
“In the context of the ongoing impacts of Gabrielle to our wider community, this decision has been very carefully weighed and considered. I know our region is still suffering and our key infrastructure remains impacted. However, in consultation with local cruise operators and stakeholders, I am confident that upcoming cruise visits can be well-managed and coordinated with minimal impact on the region’s infrastructure, including not adding further pressure to our current roading congestion issues.”
“The duration of cruise passenger visits to Napier are ordinarily brief, outside school and commuting times and require no overnight stays. Our Council team are well-practiced in coordinating each vessel visit safely and available to begin doing so again from next week,” continued Wise.
Napier Port CEO Todd Dawson supported the decision to resume cruises and help kick start the region’s economic recovery, and noted a number of restrictions that will be imposed on cruise visits.
“Fortunately, Napier Port only suffered minor damage due to the Cyclone and we were able to get back to full operations within a week. Our team are ready and waiting to safely welcome our first cruise ship back to port,” said Dawson.
“We have been working closely with cruise line operators in developing the staged return to cruise visits, and can confirm that the cruise vessels will not be taking any power or water from the region. Nor will they be offloading waste of any kind, including waste water, as this is not a service Napier Port provides.”
“In our broader discussions with these operators and regional leaders, we are also preparing with local mana whenua a special Karakia, and will share an explanation to visitors about what our region and people are currently going through, as well as provide the opportunity for the cruise lines and their passengers to donate or contribute a koha to the regional recovery,” noted Dawson.
Hawke’s Bay Tourism CEO Hamish Saxton said the visitor economy was keen to support the recovery.
The tourism sector is the third-largest industry contributor to regional GDP (after processing / manufacturing and agriculture) and is estimated to represent 9-10% of total employment, so it will be important in the recovery following Cyclone Gabrielle.
“While some areas of Hawke’s Bay are not accessible, much of the cruise visitor experience is centred in the Napier central business district. Many tourism businesses remain operational and the cruise industry can play a role in the recovery, bringing money into the economy, and supporting jobs, businesses and vibrancy,” continued Saxton.
Napier City Business Inc General Manager Pip Thompson echoed these sentiments on behalf of Napier CBD’s retailers saying, “Most of our retailers, cafés and hospitality venues are now open for business and we are seeing CBD visitor numbers slowly come back up. Inviting cruise visitors back in the city again will certainly be a welcome relief for business owners and their employees.”
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