Jewel dazzles and love affair blossoms as NSW begins recovery

Eden, on the fire-ravaged far south coast of NSW, welcomed its first cruise ship of 2020 this week, the arrival of the 2,000 passenger Norwegian Jewel marking a step forward in the region’s recovery.

The popular tourist destination was closed to cruise ships earlier this month while fires were active in the area, but all nine of NSW’s cruise ports are now open for business.

Minister for tourism Stuart Ayres said the arrival was is a vote of confidence by international tourism operators.

“Tourism is undoubtedly the lifeblood of so many regional NSW communities like Eden, as local businesses rely on the income that comes from visitors who drop in for a day, a weekend or longer,” he said.

“After such heartbreaking scenes across NSW and the country, and some fires still threatening part of the state, it is fantastic to see 2,000 people arrive here on the South Coast to give the area a much-needed boost.

“Regional NSW needs our help now more than ever, and visitors provide these communities with immediate and long-lasting support. We need everyone to book a weekend in regional NSW now, and enjoy a getaway that gives back.”

Eden hosted 15 cruise ships and four maiden voyages in the 2018-19 cruise season, and anticipated 22 arrivals in the current season, with fires diverting two berths.

Cruise Lines International Association managing director for Australasia, Joel Katz, said the arrival of Norwegian Jewel is proof of the resilience of regional communities and tourism operators.

“More than 60 cruise ships will call on Australian ports over the current summer season and the fact they are all continuing to operate as scheduled will help lift confidence in many parts of the tourism industry,” he said.

Sydney Airport has launched meanwhile a second daily Sydney to Haneda service in a welcome boost to international tourism following a horror summer.

The service will add approximately 180,000 annual seats to the Tokyo-Sydney route and is expected to generate another 36,000 Japanese visitors spending an estimated extra $72 million annually.

Hugh Wehby, chief operating officer for Sydney Airport, said: “Japan has grown to become a favourite destination for Australians who recognise the unique culture, cuisine and nightlife, with Japan now the eighth ranked destination for Sydneysiders’ overseas trips.  

“It’s also clear that Japan’s love affair with Sydney has continued with Japanese visitors firmly entrenched in our top five list of international visitors.

“Despite Japan being a mature market, in the 12 months to September 2019 it was our fastest growing, with the number of Japanese residents visiting Sydney increasing by 34 percent.”

The new service, provided by All Nippon Airways (ANA) through a 246-seat Boeing 787-9, will complement the existing daily ANA service to Haneda launched in 2015.

It brings to four the total number of daily flights between Sydney and Haneda, with Qantas also operating a daily service and Japanese Airlines (JAL) set to switch its daily Tokyo Narita service to Haneda from 29 March 2020.

In the 12 months to September 2019, Japanese arrivals grew by 34 percent, while Australian departures to Japan grew by 14 percent.

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