Australia may be reopening its doors to travelers in February, but cruise passengers will have to wait a while longer.

The country has extended its cruise ban, which was scheduled to expire on February 17, 2022, to April 17, 2022.

According to Travel Weekly, the Australia minister for health Greg Hunt attributed the extension to concerns over the omicron variant and the current wave of Covid-19 cases in Australia.

CLIA Australasia has been fighting tirelessly on behalf of the cruise industry but said in September that the discussions had gone nowhere. However, a Friday statement from the health minister said that an agreement had been reached to develop a plan for the restart of cruising.

“Though the cruise ban has been extended, we can now see hope for thousands of Australians whose livelihoods depend on cruise tourism,” said Joel Katz, CLIA Australasia’s managing director. “Australia is still the only major cruise market in the world without confirmed plans for cruising’s resumption, so it’s important that governments work in partnership with the cruise industry to achieve a swift solution.”

Katz noted that most large ships did not have plans to restart until the end of May, but pointed out that it takes a long time to prepare for a restart and that “We need governments to sign off on industry protocols as soon as possible so we can begin a careful and responsible revival of cruise tourism in Australia.”

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