International Cruise Summit, Madrid

Marie-Caroline Laurent, Director General CLIA Europe

Marie-Caroline gave her inaugural address as Director General of CLIA Europe at the International Cruise Summit in Madrid.

She focused on the safe resumption of cruising, the industry-leading health protocols that were developed and implemented, and the drive to deliver on sustainability as the cruise industry works towards achieving its vision of net carbon neutral cruising by 2050.

Madrid, 17 November 2021

Good morning [Ladies and Gentlemen].

Madrid was my very last trip before the whole of Europe shut down in March 2020. I am delighted to be here today with you all. I joined CLIA on Monday and I could not be happier that my first official engagement brings me here to join you in celebrating the resumption of cruising and meeting again as a united cruise community.  We all know very well how hard our industry was hit in the initial stages of the pandemic. But we can also be proud of our response, what we have overcome, and where we are today.

With safety as our number one priority, in March of last year we were one of the few industries to proactively suspend our operations globally. This took a huge toll on us as operators, and on the entire cruise community. 

As the world was coming to terms with the challenges of a global pandemic, CLIA and our cruise line members stepped up and joined some of the most respected medical experts in the world to develop and implement new COVID-19 health measures. Our industry-leading protocols are still today among the most stringent – and, indeed, effective – to be found anywhere in travel and tourism.

Our extensive new health protocols have allowed more than three million people to sail successfully in regions where cruising has resumed.  In fact, here in Europe, Spain has been one of the earliest country to allow the restart of cruise operations in the Western Med and the Canary Islands since November last year. Guests have welcomed the rigorous measures in place to protect their health, enabling them to relax and enjoy their holidays with confidence.  We have emerged as one of the world’s safest holiday options. And this, again, says lots about this industry – our absolute commitment to safety, but also our resilience.

That resilience is true here in Spain and I would like to extend my, and our industry’s, sympathy to the people of La Palma at this difficult time. As a destination La Palma was expected to receive a record number of cruise passengers this winter together with the rest of the Canary Islands. We pledge our support to the island as it deals with the aftermath of the recent volcano eruption and we are working closely with our colleagues in Spain and the Tenerife Port Authority to provide the latest situational information to cruise lines.

That resilience is also true for the rest of the industry, only a few months ago, in June, we were at 16% capacity.  Currently, about 56% of global CLIA cruise line capacity is back in operation, and this is projected to reach about 80% by the end of December.  This translates to about 220 ocean-going ships that will have come back into service by the end of the year.  

As the trade association representing the global cruise industry, all of us at CLIA work on behalf of individual cruise lines, suppliers, travel advisors, ports, and destinations. Along with our cruise line members, we are continuously engaging with governments and authorities at all levels in cruise markets around the world, helping to put our ships back in operation and restore opportunities for you, your colleagues, and your businesses.

The cruise industry is a driver of economies, supporting over a million jobs globally, and contributing nearly $150 billion in worldwide economic output in 2019. The economic fall-out of the global pandemic has been particularly hard on coastal communities so dependent on travel and tourism. Working together, our collective efforts is helping to restart tourism and to provide much needed economic benefits to ports and local communities. We have done so while providing the protection of extensive protocols that put the health of our guests, crew, and communities we visit at the forefront.

While involved in our restart as an industry we have not in any way lost sight of our need to continue to press forward in environmental sustainability. Our industry is committed to significant Green House Gases emission reductions and we have a clear vision from CLIA ocean-going members to achieve net carbon neutral cruising by 2050. The progress made by our industry has been highlighted by our 2021 Environmental Technology Report published on 8 November, reaffirming our collective commitment to a sustainable future.

It has not been easy, and challenges remain. But our ability to face this extraordinary challenge together – cruise lines, political leaders, port authorities, cruise terminal operators, ship agents, and tourism authorities – many of you here today… is a key ingredient in our successful resumption and the future sustainable growth of our industry. 

You truly represent the backbone of our cruise economy, and I am proud to be a new member of this amazing community.

Thank you and I wish you all a successful event.