A Diamond Princess cruse ship at Port Tauranga, New Zealand.

New Zealand will welcome the return of cruise ships to its shores from July 31, after two years of maritime border closures.

Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced on Wednesday that the border will reopen without added restrictions, allowing cruise lines to begin making preparations for their return.

The New Zealand Cruise Association is cautiously optimistic about the news.

“New Zealand is an important destination for cruise lines and with worldwide demand for cruising strong again, combined with excellent regional dispersal, this sector ticks every box for value,” said the Association’s Chair Debbie Summers. 

“After two years of hardship, hundreds of Kiwi ship suppliers and tourism operators can start rebuilding their businesses back, helping communities that have suffered during our pandemic years and begin preparing with confidence to provide our top service to cruise visitors.”

Summers expects the cruise industry will be a significant source of tourism for 2022/23 and that it will play a vital role in the tourism industry’s recovery,

“The return of cruise will be welcomed by many communities around the country, especially those regions where cruise makes up a large part of their tourism like Northland, Gisborne, New Plymouth, Picton, Timaru and Rakiura Stewart Island,” she said.  

However, Summers stressed that a lot of collaborative work will be needed from ports, inbound tour operators, Regional Tourism Organisations and local tour operators to ensure a great experience for customers.