Sustainability is key to the growing cruise industry, according to Ann Sherry, executive chair of Carnival Australia, who challenged the rest of the industry “to behave as an important sector”.

Sherry told the World Tourism Forum in Lucerne: “It’s not good enough for big white ships to just turn up and sail away.”

She said: “I’m aware there are question marks about cruise growth and its contribution to destinations. But fundamentally, there is no growth in any tourism sector unless customers choose your product.”

Sherry challenged the rest of the travel and tourism industry to measure the impacts it has in destinations.

She said: “We talk [in the industry] about what we do a lot, but we don’t measure what we do. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

“The challenge for tourism is to behave as an important economic sector globally, and that means measurement. There aren’t enough figures.”

Sherry insisted: “I can demonstrate the benefits of cruise to South Pacific island communities where more tourists arrive by cruise ships than by air, [and where] local people have built businesses based on cruise.

“We are committed to ensuring island communities benefit from tourism. The model we developed in the South Pacific is now being developed in other markets and other parts of the world.”

She told the World Tourism Forum: “When I joined [Carnival Corporation] from the banking sector 10 years ago we needed to restore the reputation of cruising and grow.

“Our strategy was to open new destinations, [but] we wanted destinations to want us to come and to welcome our customers.

“Many of the communities we touch are aid dependent. We can show examples in Papua New Guinea and in the Solomon Islands where communities have been lifted out of poverty and brought educational opportunities.”

Sherry insisted: “Sustainable tourism is key to everything we do. We don’t look to be donors but partners.

“We’re committed to minimising the impact ships have on communities, to making sure the environmental impacts are properly mapped and tracked, and to ensuring communities benefit.”

In Vanuatu in the South Pacific, she said: “Double the number of passengers arrive by ship as by air.

“Each ship visit contributes Aus$500,000 (US$370,000) and our ships visit more than 300 times a year. We created 3,000 shore-side jobs.”