New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA) – He Waka Eke Noa

December 20, 2021

New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA)

He Waka Eke Noa


Business View Oceania interviews Kevin O’Sullivan, CEO of the New Zealand Cruise Association, for our Tourism view.

The New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA) has been the peak industry body and leading voice of New Zealand’s cruise sector since 1994. Originally founded to bring together cruise lines, ports, and key industry stakeholders to help develop infrastructure, advocate at a government level, and provide a collective voice for the industry to promote, encourage, and establish New Zealand as the cruise destination of choice for the South Pacific region. The association continues to lead a positive, proactive, and operationally sound cruise community across New Zealand, providing insight into industry areas of note including progressive leadership, global trends, operational and infrastructural facilitation, sustainable best practice, and collaborative development.

NZCA members benefit from a comprehensive support model that facilitates and maximises growth in New Zealand’s cruise sector through increased engagement with stakeholders, the cruise community, and the general public. The organisation supports a range of industry members including ports, cruise lines, Regional Tourism Organisations, local government authorities, ground handlers, shipping agents, airlines, tour operators, providores, and service operators. Members are backed by regional and national advocacy that supports cruise-friendly legislation, maintains the nation’s reputation as a world-class cruise destination, and deepens understanding of the cruise sector as an economic, social, and environmental contributor to New Zealand’s continued positive growth. The association also provides key insights into global cruise-related developments, innovation, news, and trends, including research and statistics specific to New Zealand operators.

CEO Kevin O’Sullivan shares his knowledge surrounding NZCA’s important role throughout New Zealand. “In our beginnings, NZCA did a lot of work to grow the market here in New Zealand and attract international travellers from areas such as Europe, North America, and Australia. We led positive interaction and collaboration with varying levels of government, attended global cruise events, such as the Seatrade Cruise Global conference and exhibition in Miami, for networking purposes and to raise awareness of the benefits of cruise holidays in our region. Since then, we have pivoted to focus more on operational and infrastructural specifics, and to support our members in that sphere so they can continue to contribute to the success of our cruise sector.”

New Zealand’s cruise sector boosts the nation’s economy through various channels, including taxes and fees, and support of associated businesses both large and small; ports and regional suppliers, tourism operators, hotels and hospitality organisations, retailers, travel agents, transport operators, food and beverage suppliers, and more. The industry brought $570 million to New Zealand’s economy in its last operative season.

Mr. O’Sullivan explains that the association’s support has never been more important for NZCA members than it is today. Prior to the introduction of the COVID-19 pandemic, NZCA serviced 100 company members. Currently, the association has approximately 85 members across Gold (Hoe Urungi/Steering Paddle), Silver (Raa Ngongohau/Head Sail), Bronze (Raa Matua/Main Sail), and Associate (Raa Tanake/Mizzen Sail) tiers. Members range from owner operated businesses through to large organisations and franchise operators; Mr. O’Sullivan says the diversity of NZCA’s members is of great benefit to the sector. “Our motto is ‘He Waka Eke Noa’, which means, ‘We are all in this canoe together’. That is the base premise of what we do as an organisation. We unite all parties with a shared interest in New Zealand cruise tourism under the common purpose or goal of supporting and growing the cruise sector. The pandemic has been catastrophic to our sector, and to the wider tourism and travel industries across the world. Overnight, we went from an industry that was growing between 10% and 15% each year to absolutely zero growth. As of March 2020, New Zealand’s cruise season came to a complete halt. So it is incredibly important to us that we support our members through this time, and right now, we are working very closely with local operators to prepare them for the eventual resurgence of our cruise market.”

NZCA is headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand. From this location, the association fosters relationships with a number of strategic partners, including Tourism New Zealand, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Cruise Europe, the Australian Cruise Association, and the Cruise Lines International Association. This global network of tourism and cruise sector organisations meets each year to discuss items of mutual interest via Miami’s Seatrade Cruise Global conference and exhibition, as well as intermittent online seminars and email communications. NZCA holds an annual New Zealand Cruise Conference at rotating locations each year that features keynote speakers from a number of strategic partners and industry stakeholders. Mr. O’Sullivan shares, “Our 2021 NZ Cruise Conference was unfortunately postponed this year until 2022 due to pandemic restrictions. We hope to hold our 2022 conference mid-year next year, and we have already started to attract fantastic speakers for that. I’m very positive about the level of engagement we will receive from our local and surrounding cruise industries. It will be fantastic to finally have the ability to showcase the potential for our cruise sector to resurge and talk to our members and partners about how we can all continue to move forward in a better light.”

NZCA is confident that the future for New Zealand’s cruise sector is bright. The association continues to advocate for the sector at a government level, currently lobbying for more concrete information as to when international border will reopen for cruise tourism. Mr O’Sullivan elaborates, “While we don’t expect our international tourism industry to operate in the same way it used to, we really are excited to get things moving again. It’s been a trying two years for our members, but as an industry we have used the time to have a major rethink about how we will do things from now on. We aim to work closely in the coming month with our community and the communities we interact with across the South Pacific, in order to to redevelop the economic, social, and environmental benefits we have lost for some time, including rebuilding tourism infrastructure such as bus and coach routes.”

NZCA will be actively involved with government in the planning process for tourism and cruise recovery. Mr O’Sullivan concludes with an explanation that recovery will be gradual. “During this time of healing, it is important that all members of the tourism, travel, and cruise communities work together. We encourage members of these communities to share their stories about why cruise is important to them and their region through media, social media, word of mouth, and any other platforms they may have access to. By being open and transparent about our struggles as well as our potential for regrowth across the region, we will rebuild the industry to be even stronger than before.” The NZCA will move forward in a proactive manner and continue supporting their members through advocacy, education, promotion, and service as the cruise sector reopens.

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New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA)

What: Peak body organisation supporting the New Zealand cruise sector

Where: NZCA is headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand



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