“Testament to a great community” is how Akaroa District Promotions Executive Officer, Hollie Hollander, described Akaroa’s win in the 2017 Cruise Critics’ Awards.
Akaroa was named Best Cruise Destination in Australia and New Zealand. What an accolade for a small village to beat the big players on the cruise itinerary. Runners up were Sydney, Picton, Melbourne and Tauranga.
“Akaroa was thrown in the deep end when it became the ‘default destination’ for cruise ships after the earthquakes ended arrivals into Lyttelton. This award is testament to the whole community, who despite the disruption have rallied together for the greater good and made Akaroa an unforgettable experience for our visitors” said Ms Hollander.
The Cruise Critics website describes Akaroa as a quaint village that “oozes Gallic charm.” But it’s the charm of the locals that has won the cruise passengers over.
“Sailing into Akaroa harbour is an amazing experience in itself, but what our visitors always comment on is the warmth and friendliness of the locals. It starts with the welcome they receive from the Cruise Ambassadors on the wharf, it continues as they’re hosted on a great range of local tours and activities and ends with locals serving them the best of Peninsula products. Our cruise visitors are enamoured by our scenery but it’s the people who make this place so memorable for them.”
Hollander said that despite a number of weather setbacks this cruise season, overall it had been a success. And despite the sometimes congested town on large double ship days the community had worked hard to minimise the impact on the township.
“I acknowledge that we didn’t always get the balance right, but we’ve been working closely with the Council and local businesses to try to minimise congestion and amenity issues. We’ve listened to locals and we’re really making an effort to maximise the economic opportunities cruising brings while minimising the social impacts.”
With news that cruise ships will return to Lyttelton in the not-too-distant future, Hollander said now was the time to start thinking about how the community remained a viable Cruise Destination. “We are not looking at losing our position as a Cruise Destination, rather we’ll be looking at Akaroa as a niche destination. That will mean fewer ships and passengers but it may also mean higher value visitors and greater sustainability.”
Akaroa welcomed approx. 127,000 cruise ship visitors in the 2016/17 season.
Research undertaken by Lincoln University in 2013 shows that the average ‘port visit’ spend per cruise ship visitor is $129. This is made up of spending on tours, transport, shopping and souvenirs, restaurant meals, food and refreshments and is spent through the whole of Canterbury.
Businesses derive between 5-30% of their annual revenue from cruise ship visitors.
The economic impact of the cruise ship visitors to Akaroa is forecast at a value-add (VA)* of $38.5m. An estimated 781 jobs will be supported by the industry in Canterbury.
Cruise ship tourism presents a huge opportunity for NZ and for Canterbury. There is no other singular tourism market in Canterbury having the immediate ability to produce high value returns for Canterbury’s economic recovery with minimal effort of expenditure.