Association of Cruise Experts head Andy Harmer is to succeed Bill Gibbons as director of CLIA UK and Ireland.

He steps up on May 1 when Gibbons retires after 19 years as director of the Passenger Shipping Association – which is changing its name to CLIA.

At the same time the UK Chamber of Shipping will represent PSA ferry line members, with many ferry companies already belonging to the organisation. Their interests will be represented on the Chamber’s ferry and cruise panel.

Jo Rzymowska, associate vice president and general manager UK and Ireland for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, will take on the position of chairman for CLIA UK and Ireland.

Harmer said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of director for CLIA UK and Ireland at such an exciting time.

“Our goal is to grow the cruise market in the UK and Ireland by working with our travel agent partners and highlighting, through our consumer media campaigns, the many and varied great reasons for taking a cruise holiday.

“We will continue to provide effective training, support, national and international events for agents with the new association offering more robust partnership programmes and networking on a broader scale.”

He added: “Technical and regulatory issues will now be looked after by our colleagues in CLIA Europe who will oversee the activities of the national associations. We look forward to working with them on developing events and communications to create a greater interest in cruise holidays.”

Gibbons said: “I have seen huge changes since I joined in 1994 as cruise has expanded from what some considered a preserve of the wealthy to a mainstream affordable holiday.

“Over the same time the ferry sector has seen considerable consolidation but has transformed the quality of the service with investment in new ships and services. The passenger shipping industry should be proud of what it has achieved.”

He added: “The formation of a global cruise association makes total sense for what is now a worldwide industry. We have a strong, dedicated team who will be moving forward with CLIA and I should like to thank all our member lines and associate members for their huge support and commitment over the years.”

PSA chairman and P&O Ferries passenger services director Simon Johnson said: “The PSA was formed more than 55 years ago and since that time has had a high-profile role with the cruise and ferry industries.

“The association has been instrumental in ensuring issues have been addressed with government and regulators while tirelessly campaigning to raise the public’s awareness of the great advantages of travel by sea.

“I am proud to have served as the last chair of the PSA and having overseen the restructuring of the organisation, am confident the interests of our cruise, ferry and associate members will take the highest priority.”