HURDLES currently blocking the resumption of small ship expedition cruising in Australia are being gradually chipped away, with Minister for Tourism Simon Birmingham considering amending biosecurity orders to allow domestic operations.

The minutes of a meeting held this week by the Tourism Restart Taskforce confirm the expedition cruise sector was “having good engagement with some of the state governments, but still requires the Federal Government to exempt the ships that would deliver the service from the banon international cruise ships entering Australia”.

Birmingham, who attended the meeting on Mon, has invited domestic expedition cruise operators to submit details of state approvals, with a view to making the required changes. Taskforce member Jacqui Walshe from The Walshe Group also spoke about the progress during a Visit USA half-yearly update yesterday, saying fellow member Sarina Bratton of Ponant had been a “really good advocate for small ship expedition cruising within Australia,” initially starting with Kimberley voyages from WA (Cruise Weekly 24 Jul).

However Bratton “is also working hard to try and get the definition of the maritime sector sufficient that Australian and New Zealand cruising might be possible,” Walshe added.

Despite the progress, “as far as the big scale international cruising goes, that’s still some way away,” Walshe noted.

The current biosecurity order imposed by Australian Minister for Health Greg Hunt bans international cruise ships with capacity for over 100 passengers from local waters until 17 Sep.

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