Clia UK boss Andy Harmer speaks to Cruise Adviser about how the organisation is helping its members and the industry as a whole face the coronavirus pandemic
During these trying times many are turning to Clia, the cruise industry’s association, for answers. Whether that’s cruise line members wanting to move as one industry, or travel agents seeking advice about moving bookings and avoiding outright cancellations. We spoke to Clia UK boss Andy Harmer to find out more.
Cruise Adviser: What is Clia doing to help the trade during the pandemic? And to calm industry nerves?
Andy Harmer: As our colleagues across the cruise industry and the communities we serve are facing a challenge that is unprecedented in scale, it’s important that Clia can provide continuous updates to our travel agent members.
As a global organisation, Clia monitors factual updates and data from around the world to share with our colleagues and partners within the travel trade. Our main platforms to share such information are the Clia social media channels, cruiseexperts.org, and our weekly newsletters.
Through weekly videos, social media posts and our newsletters, we aim to provide messages of support as well as important updates from Clia and our cruise line members.
Agents can find the latest Clia statement and FAQs on the ongoing Covid-19 situation on cruiseexperts.org and cruising.org, and we are currently working on new website resources which will provide useful information including videos, facts and figures, and industry updates.
What are agents reporting back?
Like many sectors, travel agents have been looking to the government for support. The government’s announcement that it would support employers and employees has come as very welcome news to many businesses and individuals.
Clia has been making clear to the government our support for specific, practical measures to alleviate pressure on the travel trade community – including making temporary changes to existing Package Travel Regulations.
Why was a 30-day suspension decided on, as opposed to longer or shorter?
We can look at the 30 days as a check-in point. All Clia cruise line members have announced full and voluntary suspensions of worldwide operations, as we work to address this public health crisis. We will use this time during the temporary suspension to continue to focus on our public health protocols and policies.
What does the industry need to do to survive?
The cruise industry is a strong, close-knit community and it is because of this collaborative culture that our sector has proven to be resilient in the face of previous global challenges. Make no mistake: this current situation is affecting all of us. Whether you are a crew member working onboard ship, or your role is shoreside in ports, or with travel agencies, we all rely on each other to give our customers the best travel experience possible.
Travel agents are vital to the cruise industry – around 75 per cent of cruise holidays are booked through travel agents – and we are committed to seeing agents through this crisis, just as we are our member lines.
How do we rebuild consumer confidence in cruise?
Clia has a longstanding member health policy that requires screening of all embarking passengers and crew to help prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Clia’s ocean-going members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities and shipboard medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and to help prevent disease transmission.
The cruise industry’s already strict protocols have been strengthened across the board as the world has learned more about the challenge faced, under the guidance of international health authorities. We will continue to play our part informing the public – both our loyal customers and those who are new to cruise – of the extremely high level of health and hygiene measures that exist on board ships for their protection.
While it’s easy to focus on one industry because of its high profile in travel and tourism, this is a situation that goes well beyond any one industry. We know of no other form of entertainment or travel that has the reporting requirements or the screening protocols in place year in and year out, outside a global health crisis.