HOLLYWOOD — Travel advisors were given plenty of praise last week at CLIA’s annual North America Cruise360 Conference, with President and CEO Kelly Craighead crediting them for their role in the cruise industry’s restart in the United States.
Taking place at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida, exactly 501 days following the industry’s voluntary suspension of global operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cruise360 marked the first official, in-person cruise industry event in North America since 2019.
In her welcome remarks, Craighead highlighted the important role that travel advisors played throughout the pandemic and called on the community to remain engaged and promote the proactive measures that cruise lines are taking to protect public health as sailing resumes.
“With industry leading protocols in place guiding the resumption of operations in Europe and Asia, and with the growing availability of vaccines, it was you and your voices that successfully made the case for cruise resumption in the United States,” said Craighead, referring to CLIA’s ‘Ready, Set, Sail’ initiative that engaged the wider cruise community, many of whom are travel advisors, to call on Congress and the White House to issue the instructions needed to comply with the Conditional Sail Order that is in place until Nov. 1.
Noting that CLIA met its stated goal of working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the responsible resumption of cruise operations in the United States by July, Craighead went on to recognize that obstacles remain and called on travel advisors to continue to use their voices as advocates for the industry.
“The industry’s reputation has been challenged like never before. We must do a better job correcting the record and telling the positive story of cruise, including our investments in environmental sustainability which totalled US$23.5 billion last year,” said Craighead. “We’ve seen the power of our collective voice. Let’s build on this momentum, using facts to dispel myths and helping others better understand the positive contributions of the cruise industry around the world.”
“The industry’s reputation has been challenged like never before. We must do a better job correcting the record and telling the positive story of cruise, including our investments in environmental sustainability which totaled $23.5 billion last year,” said Craighead. “We’ve seen the power of our collective voice. Let’s build on this momentum, using facts to dispel myths and helping others better understand the positive contributions of the cruise industry around the world.”
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises and CLIA Global Chairman, joined Craighead in delivering virtual remarks at Cruise360’s opening session.
“I have been so impressed by how we have all worked more closely together during this crisis – cruise lines, city mayors, port authorities, cruise terminal operators, ship agents, and tourism authorities as well as many of you here today,” said Vago. “When we band together and use the collective strength of our voices, we can generate positive change.”
The nearly 45,000 travel agents and agencies who are part of CLIA’s North America Travel Trade Membership represent the largest network of travel advisors specializing in cruise travel. The annual North America Cruise360 Conference offers CLIA travel trade members in the U.S. and Canada the opportunity to participate in training and networking events to help advisors grow their businesses and stay informed with the latest critical information and trends affecting the cruise industry.