Australia's cruise ship ban is likely to end in April with a formal announcement expected within days, according to Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan.
According to Mr. Tehan, the federal government was waiting for the tick of approval from the NSW and Queensland governments, finalizing state health protocols.
He added they had agreed in the next day they were going to get all the work necessary, so hopefully, on Wednesday, March 16, they could announce that April 17 was the day that cruising could begin again.
"We now see absolutely no reason why we can't make that formal announcement now that we have NSW and I am pretty sure we are going to have Queensland onboard."
Mr. Tehan commented the resumption was "another piece of wonderful news" for the tourism industry and Australia continued to re-open to the world.
Voyages to Australia have been banned since March 2020, after the Ruby Princess debacle. The cruise ship docked in Sydney Harbour from San Francisco CA and thousands of passengers disembarked and spread through the Australian community, leading to Australia's first outbreak of the Alpha variant - with a total of 28 deaths and ~900 people contracting the virus. Dozens of Ruby Princess guests with COVID were allowed to disembark in Sydney in March 2020. Onboard the ship, 25% of passengers had been tested for the Coronavirus and 12 people returned a positive result.
CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) Australasia welcomed the pending resumption of voyages to Australia. CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz said the Minister’s comments were very encouraging and the industry now had greater confidence that they could see a green light soon.
Cruise companies are currently in discussions with respective state governments in order to make sure public health protocols are in place so sailings can be conducted safely.
According to CLIA, the cruise ship ban had taken a devastating toll on ~18,000 Australians, whose work had been impacted since the start of the COVID crisis.