Here are some resources to help you through this challenging time.
Charting the next course
A conversation with CLIA Australasia Managing Director Joel Katz.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
CLIA and its cruise line members have begun creating a new health framework to uphold the safety of guests and prepare for future operations in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Details of this process have been outlined to CLIA's travel agent members in Australia and New Zealand in an outline forum, and below are some of the questions agents raised.
Are the new protocols being developed going to be global or will they be specific to each region, and what will they include? CLIA is developing a global response across all cruise line members, but we will work closely with governments around the world to ensure we communicate the steps we’re taking and address all their concerns at a regional level. While it’s too early to say what specific protocols will be developed, they will address areas across enhanced screening, cleansing and medical facilities.
Previous measures announced included medical certificates for high risk or older guests - is this still a requirement? Several measures like this were announced by cruise lines as part of protocols developed in consultation with CLIA and health authorities, though they have been superseded by the suspension of cruise operations. Before cruising resumes, CLIA and cruise lines will issue a revised set of protocols and full requirements will be available once finalised. There’s still much to learn, but the industry is committed to gaining as much insight as possible before finalising measures and moving towards resumption.
What is CLIA doing to advocate to governments for a restart of cruise operations? CLIA has worked intensively with governments throughout this crisis including various agencies in the governments of Australia and New Zealand as well as state agencies. Our continuing work with government will be more important than ever and a key priority when it comes to communicating the measures our industry is developing.
I have heard that regional cruising is more likely to resume first. Where will cruising restart? It’s too early to say definitively where cruising will re-emerge first, but we do envisage that a staged and regional resumption is a likely possibility. CLIA and cruise lines will work closely with governments in Australia and New Zealand to ensure they understand the measures we develop and that we address their requirements, so that we can explore options for resumption when the time is right.
What is CLIA doing to combat the negative media and provide the facts about the cruise industry? CLIA has been tackling issues in the media throughout this crisis and speaking for our industry’s interests both publicly and behind the scenes within government. While it’s difficult to get traction and frustrating that negatives overshadow our efforts, we have been gaining greater exposure in key print and broadcast media in recent weeks. We’re continuing to pursue opportunities wherever we can, and will be launching further activity as part of our global communications strategy in the near future.
Will CLIA be developing video resources as part of the tool kit for agents to share? For example, explaining the sanitation and cleaning processes onboard cruise ships? Videos on topics including the sanitization procedures aboard ships and other health measures are being produced, along with other materials that are part of a wider communications strategy. We’ll make these available as soon as possible.
Why were Australian-based cruise ships told "to go home", when they are based in this region year-round and supported by Australian headquarters with many Australian employees? Cruise lines have a strong attachment to this region dating back decades, with ships based here year round or seasonally. At every opportunity we highlight that ships are homeported here, cruise lines have significant operations here, and that the cruise industry is worth more than $5 billion a year to the local economy, supporting more than 18,000 jobs. We’re including this in messaging available to our agents and industry stakeholders to help reinforce cruising’s local significance.
Why were some cruise ships affected more than others? The vast majority of cruise ships were not impacted by COVID-19 onboard. Why some ships were impacted and other questions are being examined by health experts and cruise lines now, and the advice we receive will be considered as we develop new health protocols for the future. There’s still much to learn, but the industry is committed to gaining as much insight as possible before finalising measures and moving towards resumption.
Will avid cruisers have a role in supporting the industry's recovery? There’s clearly a committed and passionate community of cruisers in Australia and New Zealand, and they’ll be of great support in our recovery process, sharing their positive stories about cruise and encouraging the industry's restart when the time is right. This will be particularly important as we announce initiatives like social media campaigns
How do we as travel agents market future cruises when it's unclear where the industry will restart first? We appreciate it’s difficult to market cruising in the current climate. Individual cruise lines may take different approaches to their own marketing, depending on their positioning and needs. It’s difficult for CLIA to provide specific marketing advice, but you may like to consult with you cruise line BDMs for insight on how individual lines are responding.
How do we advocate for the industry while the new health protocols are still being developed? The specifics of the new health protocols will certainly strengthen our case when available. Until then, we highlight the extensive work that’s already underway, continue to address misperceptions wherever we can, and tell our positive stores about the industry. Our voice will certainly be stronger when we’re able to announce concrete measures.
How are cancellations being managed to avoid confusion for guests? While the industry would like to have as little disruption and anxiety for guests as possible, unfortunately the nature of this disease involves a great deal of uncertainty. Cruise lines will ultimately be guided by the advice and insight of health authorities and medical experts in making these decisions
Currently there are different travel advisories around the world about cruising – how will CLIA address their impact? As we develop our new health platform, we’ll work closely with governments around the world to ensure they understand the actions we’re taking and that we address their concerns. Travel warnings may indeed be adjusted as the COVID-19 situation changes and travel restrictions are eased, and we will ultimately take the advice of health authorities and medical experts in the development of our new health protocols.
How will CLIA ensure that we don’t have the situation again where cruise ships were refused entry to some ports? This is an important issue that will be addressed with countries globally. We’ll work closely with governments, ports and destinations around the world to ensure they understand the actions we’re taking and that we address their concerns, in an effort to ensure smooth and safe operations in the future.