Clia Europe has moved to reassure the cruise sector over concerns Covid protocols could soon be tightened amid rising Omicron case numbers.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) upgraded its risk status for cruising from level 3 to 4 last month, prompting fears that health authorities across EU and the UK could follow suit and change current cruise guidelines.
Clia Europe’s director general, Marie-Caroline Laurent, told a Travel Weekly webcast: “We have not seen a reaction [to Covid cases] from the authorities in Europe [compared] to what we’ve seen with the CDC.
“This recent [CDC] announcement has not necessarily changed our plan. Travellers can be reassured that for the upcoming season in Europe, we’re still looking at having a good programme and good experience.”
Positive feedback from governments across Europe demonstrated how strong collaboration during the pandemic between Clia and politicians had “paid off”, Laurent said.
She added: “No government, no authority, is planning on issuing additional requirements or restrictions on cruising.
“On the contrary, they’re more trying to help the sector resume its full capacity.”
She added there were no plans to change existing protocols at government-level in Europe but added that there might be a review “in the coming months” ahead of the summer season.
Asked if protocols would be tightened or relaxed, Laurent said: “If you had asked me two months ago when I started (her role), the discussion was more on a relaxation. Today, I’m not sure we can guarantee that.”
Prior to becoming director general of Clia Europe last November, Laurent held roles at Iata, where she was assistant director of EU affairs for two and a half years.
She worked on policy development at the Association of European Airlines in the managerial position she held for more than three years.
Laurent said she has spent her 20-year career in travel working “very closely” with authorities with “the purpose of ensuring continuity of the operation”.
She added that she wanted to continue doing this in her position at Clia Europe and “raise the profile of cruising” for passengers and the local communities they visit.
Making sure cruise resumes operations in a sustainable way is Clia’s top priority, Laurent stressed.
“Our focus throughout this resumption of the operation with the pandemic is to come out of this crisis in a more structured stronger way, so we can continue our growth in a sustainable way,” she said.
“It’s important to convey that it’s not all about resumption at the moment, it is also continuing on decarbonisation.”