David Dingle, Clia Europe’s deputy chairman, has said the wider tourism industry is “not playing its part” when it comes to tackling overcrowding in the likes of Barcelona and Venice.
Speaking at the a roundtable event in the London, the industry veteran, who is also chairman of Carnival UK, said that while cruise is a “high visibility industry”, it represents less than 5 per cent of tourism in these port cities.
Recently, ships of 100,000 GT or more were banned from sailing past St Mark’s Square in the Italian city, following protests by locals and a warning from Unesco regarding overcrowding.
“We, as an industry, are very aware of overcrowding, and where it exists, and we are very conscious that we can play a part in [tackling] it,” he said. “We are only a small part of the problem, and we want to be a much greater part of the solution.”
But he added: “I think it’s unfair if we relatively disadvantage ourselves because the wider industry is not playing its part.:
He said that it is “about getting our arms around the whole issue, well beyond what might be perceived as being a cruise issue.”
Dingle said that the cruise industry was liaising with governmental, local and port authorities in cities such as Venice, Dubrovnik and Barcelona, where overcrowding has become a flashpoint.
“All of us in the tourism industry recognise that overcrowding is something that needs tackling in the future. We don’t want to stop people travelling and seeing all the wonderful places in the word, but we recognise we have to do this in a very responsible manner,” he said.
“Whatever the cruise industry does, it’s not going to be the total solution. That’s an issue for the wider tourism industry and the local authorities to work with organisations and sectors, such as ours, to be able to improve that,” he added.
Dingle said the cruise industry is “doing what it can” to play its part in “improving the management of cruises”.
“There is a lot that we’re looking at; thinking about how we can work as an industry to smooth out cruise calls. Even, in some situations, does one ship have a morning call [and] another ship has an evening call?” he said.
Dingle added that “visibility” was a key issues for cruises.
“We noticed that the vast majority of cruise ship buses drop guests in the same place, so you get this great cluster of tourists, so it might seem like a lot,” he said.
“We can think more carefully about how we might disperse them around the city, and how we offer more shore excursions to take people further afield, so that the impact on local residents is not felt.
“But we are still preserving that incredibly valuable tourism income that goes into those areas,” he said.
In a wide-raging interview, Dingle spoke about the growth of the cruise industry, noting that the recession created a “lag” in the number ships ordered between 2009 and 2013. He said the industry is undergoing a “catching up exercise”.
He said capacity growth is 5 per cent per annum, which is in line with “historic growth rates”.
Dingle also spoke about the environmental impact of cruise, describing it as another key issue facing the industry. He said cruise companies were investing in new greener technology “for genuinely altruistic reasons.”
“We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “We are getting more and more efficient.”