The Association of Cruise Experts and the Passenger Shipping Association merge today to create a new national body within the Cruise Lines International Association.

Clia UK & Ireland will focus primarily on travel agency training, marketing and promotion.

The organisation will be led by former Ace director Andy Harmer (pictured), while Robert Ashdown will manage government affairs in the UK in co-operation with the UK Chamber of Shipping.

Royal Caribbean association vice president and general manager UK & Ireland Jo Rzymowska becomes chair of Clia UK & Ireland.

Harmer said: “The global cruise industry has seen accelerated growth over recent years. In Europe alone the cruise market doubled to a record 6.2 million passengers in the past eight years. The industry’s issues, regulators and stakeholders have also evolved and increasingly span international borders, so it’s more important than ever to implement an appropriate global structure.

“The new Clia structure and our association in the UK and Ireland will support a ‘One Industry, One Voice’ approach to policy development, advocacy and industry-wide promotional activity.

“We are confident that cruise lines, the travel industry and new and existing cruise passengers will all feel the benefits of this new arrangement.”

Ashdown added: “While Clia UK & Ireland will focus primarily on encouraging more people to cruise, the UK remains a powerful maritime influence in both the International Maritime Organisation and in the European Union.

“It is vital that the UK understands the importance of cruising to the economies of Europe and works to ensure that the UK, and Europe as a whole, remains a good place in which to do cruise business.”