Job losses could reach 13,000 if cruise suspension continues into summer peak

The suspension of cruise operations is likely to cost Australia more than $1.4 billion in lost economic activity by mid-September and threaten the jobs of more than 4,800 people, according to analysis commissioned by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia.

Conducted by economic analysts and forecasters AEC Group, the analysis shows the shutdown has already resulted in an economic loss of almost $500 million to the end of May, which in the absence of the Australian Government’s JobKeeper program would have cost almost 1,700 Australian jobs.

It forecasts that if the cruise suspension continues beyond its current date of September 17 and into the summer high-season, the economic loss to Australia would total a further $3.8 billion and place another 13,000 jobs at risk.

CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said cruise lines were hard at work developing extensive measures to uphold the health and safety of passengers and crew when the time is right to resume sailing. However, he warned the economic cost in the meantime would extend far beyond the cruise lines themselves.

“Cruise tourism is worth $5.2 billion a year to the Australia economy and supports more than 18,000 jobs,” Mr Katz said. “These jobs are spread across almost 50 destinations and every state, including many regional communities and remote locations that have suffered enormously in the tourism shutdown.”

“The suspensions that cruise lines and governments have enacted worldwide have been the right response as we confront COVID-19, but there is an enormous cost to those who make up the wider cruise community,” he said. “There are many thousands of travel agents, tour operators, ports and destinations, technical support providers, and food and beverage suppliers who support the cruise industry and are suffering enormous financial stress.”

CLIA has backed calls for the JobKeeper allowance to be extended for travel agents and others in the tourism industry.

Mr Katz said CLIA was working with its cruise line members to develop new and enhanced industry health protocols, taking advice from medical experts and health authorities internationally.

“The cruise industry is taking a wide-ranging and holistic approach to planning for COVID-19 safety when sailing can resume,” Mr Katz said. “While it is too soon to outline specific measures, the industry is considering protocols that will ideally entail a door-to-door strategy beginning at the time of booking through to when a passenger returns home.

“CLIA cruise lines are using this time to ensure we learn as much as possible from COVID-19 and develop the best possible response, so that the wellbeing of passengers remains our highest priority and the economic benefit of cruising can return to communities around Australia,” he said.

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