Why you should support cruise lines caught in the COVID nightmare

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Cruise fans and business owners are being asked to contact local MPs in a new campaign to urge the government to allow Australian cruises again.

Australia still hasn’t announced when cruise ships will be able to return to Australian waters, leaving 18,000 people uncertain about their livelihoods and costing the country $5 billion in lost revenue.

Since the cruise industry shut down due to the pandemic almost two years ago, Asia, Europe and America have resumed sailing.

Travel agents and suppliers are being asked to join forces with their MPs’ officials tomorrow and share their personal tragedies. The cruise sector is calling on the government to allow cruise lines to re-enter the local market in a carefully managed and responsible manner.

Day of action organizers say six million travelers have safely traveled the world since cruising resumed.

Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (CLIA) says cruise lines have committed to new health protocols to ensure all cruise passengers are safe and the risk of illness is minimized.

The new health protocols are based on scientific evidence, and with all passengers being vaccinated and tested before boarding, a cruise is one of the safest forms of vacation.

CLIA cites Singapore as an example of how cruising can work despite COVID:

Singapore launched CruiseSafe, an initiative that has enabled the safe resumption of cruises to the island nation. The government has put in place multiple protocols and provided a model for other countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong to safely resume cruising.

Protocols include:

  • Local itineraries for locals only with no international ports
  • Reduced capacity cruises with a combination of guest and crew vaccination tests prior to boarding
  • Social distancing, masks and other infection control measures at every stage of the journey
  • Extensive health protocols including testing, screening, disinfection and contingency plans
  • Improved medical facilities.
  • Improved ventilation systems.

CLIA has a “Meet your MP” toolkit which can be used at any time here: https://www.cruising.org.au/Regulatory/Meet-Your-MP-Toolkit

Campaign organizers Belle Goldie, owner of itravel Penrith agency in western Sydney, and Dan Russell, general manager of Brisbane-based Clean Cruising, said the travel sector is now well past the crisis point.

“After two hard years of devastation; Travel agents, tour operators and travel-related companies can no longer remain silent. They must brief MPs on the cold, hard facts of the plight they now find themselves in,” said Dan Russell.

“Many travel companies have already collapsed and so many more are at risk of going under with even more job losses. We are facing the loss of an entire generation of skilled travel professionals, which is why the adoption of the AFTA Preservation and Restoration Skills Package is so important.”

“Job Keeper and industry support have just kept the industry afloat, but we fear further support will not come. We have lost all of our young employees and those who remain are the business owners and experienced employees with decades in their roles. Her long-standing skills will be even more important when it comes to helping Australians travel safely again, both domestically and internationally. With the traveling public still sitting on over $8 billion in travel balances, this cannot be further compromised.”

Belle Goldie said the personal burden on people in the travel and tourism sector, including their financial and mental health, is horrendous and getting worse. She was just months away from having to end her 22-year commitment to fulfilling the dreams of travel-addicted Australians.

“I’d rather go down fighting and raise my voice than see my business, which I invested my family’s life savings in, die slowly and silently on its knees,” said Belle Goldie. “When I first started traveling, I never imagined that one day I would be among those middle-income people who would have to accept handouts or worry about feeding my children. But my story is not special. I know at least 15-20 other agency owners in a similar situation.”

“We fear that travel bans will be extended and postponed until after the general election, with a completely devastating impact on any business that is part of the travel ecosystem and related industries that many of us depend on to survive. ”

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