Cruise industry calls for talks to end inaction

The cruise industry has called for urgent talks with Australian governments to break the cycle of inaction over the industry’s future, warning Australia is being left behind as other countries rebuild their cruising and tourism economies.

Responding to today’s extension of Australia’s cruise suspension, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said Australia had become the only major cruise destination in the world where governments had made no progress on plans for revival, and that discussions were needed to finalise a pathway forward, initially for cruises carrying Australians-only within Australia.

“Our discussions with government agencies have gone nowhere and our letters to the most senior levels of government have gone unanswered,” said CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said. “Other countries have not only created detailed plans to uphold safety on cruise ships in response to the pandemic, but have already resumed cruising in a responsible way.

“More than a million passengers have sailed successfully in countries where cruising has resumed – with strict health protocols in place – but in Australia our calls for detailed discussions with health authorities have been ignored.”

Mr Katz said the cruise industry had presented some of the most stringent COVID-19 measures to be found anywhere in world tourism, developed with the support of medical experts and health authorities internationally.

“Now that Australian governments have agreed on a four-phase plan for reopening with specific vaccination targets in place, we need to ensure cruising can be part of this plan,” Mr Katz said. “CLIA has outlined its own four-phase pathway to cruising’s revival, so we need governments to break the cycle of inaction and discuss how to put plans in place now so that we’re ready as conditions improve and vaccination rates rise.”

Cruise tourism ordinarily supports more than 18,000 Australian jobs and contributes more than $5 billion a year to the Australian economy.

“The livelihoods of thousands of Australians have been devastated while cruising has been suspended,” Mr Katz said. “These people deserve clarity and a plan for the future, so we can begin to rebuild and revive economic opportunities for communities around our coasts.”

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