Clia encourages harmonised travel rules across Europe

Clia is working to “harmonise” Covid measures across the continent so there is “no stress” for passengers sailing from March when the European cruise season begins.

Marie-Caroline Laurent, Clia Europe’s new director general, said the cruise trade association wants to help create a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) that “can be used and mutually recognised” across the continent.

She also hopes that a set of entry conditions required by all European countries can be agreed in the coming months.

Speaking during a Travel Weekly webcast, Laurent said: “We’re looking at harmonisation of the requirements, not having five different rules depending on your itinerary. Certainty, clarity, and harmonisation – especially in Europe.

“We’re calling very strongly for this harmonisation within the European Union first, to be able to have a better tourism season this year with more clarity for customers so there is no stress for passengers that they might not be able to go back home or arrive to their destination country because all of a sudden the rules have changed.”

Travel associations outside the cruise sector are also involved in lobbying around proposed entry condition harmonisation, she said.

Laurent said Clia would “definitely” get support from the European Commission and “several member states”.

“We’re pushing,” she added. “We’re hopeful. Whether we’re realistic, we don’t know. This is something the industry jointly is calling for.”

She said harmonisation of European entry rules would be “a tremendous help” ahead of the restart of the European cruising season in March.

“We hope the member states individually will hear our message,” she added.

Clia UK and Ireland manging director, Andy Harmer, who joined Laurent on the webcast, echoed her appeal for travel regulations to be simplified. “All of these barriers to that openness of travel are a challenge for people to understand,” he said. “So we need some support around that.

“We need some changes to the [UK] PLF that I’m sure other people in the travel industry have spoken about as well.”

He pointed out that the cruise industry is used to “complex travel arrangements”, explaining: “A ship tends to carry different nationalities, going to different ports, often to different countries within the same voyage.”

He believes the UK government’s recent relaxation of testing requirements, scarpping pre-departure tests for those travelling to the UK and PCR tests and self-isolation on arrival, demonstrates the strength of the travel industry’s lobbying clout.

“Travel was not seen as something that the government encouraged for a lot of the last couple of years,” he said. “They said so through the media, and that sends a certain message to people about booking their holiday.

“But the noise coming from government now is a lot different. That change to testing was the catalyst.”

Harmer added: “We’ve seen a lot of government support and understanding of the cruise sector, and that’s developed over the past couple of years.”

More: Clia says Covid probe reports do not give full picture

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