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Cruise ships buoy global economy with $150b yearly



. Lose $50.24 billion to pandemic

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), have emphasized the need for safe return of the cruise ship sub-sector, noting that the industry generates $150 billion for the global economy yearly, and supports 1.2 million jobs.

The duo, in a joint statement obtained by The Guardian, said about 850 million to 1.1 billion lower international tourist arrivals are expected worldwide due to the pandemic. This translates to a loss of about $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in export revenues from tourism, thereby putting between 100 and 120 million of direct tourism-related jobs at risk.

The statement reads: “Regarding the cruise sector, about 30 million passengers cruised in 2019. The tourism sector is providing important socio-economic benefits for Small Island States, sustaining millions of livelihoods in these countries, accounting for over 30 per cent of total exports for the majority of SIDS and up to 80 per cent for some.


Since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the global pandemic, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) members announced a voluntary suspension of operations worldwide, making the sector one of the first to do so.

“According to information from the cruise industry, cruising contributes $150 billion to the global economy every year and supports 1.2 million jobs, paying $50 billion in wages. Suspending cruise operations through July 2020 resulted in $50.24 billion in total economic loss, representing over 334,000 jobs and $14.75 billion in wages.

“During this time of suspension, the cruise industry has been reviewing and enhancing their protocols to determine ways to go further in the protection of the health of passengers, crew and the general public.

“Different initiatives to recover the cruise sector have recently been launched, recommending minimum measures expected to be implemented by all parties concerned, while maintaining general safety and security standards,” it stated.

The IMO and UNWTO therefore encouraged the cruise industry and governments to continue their efforts to enable cruise ship operations resume safely.

The two UN agencies also recognised the efforts made by the industry, countries and international organizations to protect the safety, health and well-being of passengers and crew, as well as the health of the population of destination port states of cruise ships.


The joint statement invites governments to use the guidance on the gradual and safe resumption of operations of cruise ships .
in the European Union in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic (shared by IMO in Circular Letter No 4204/Add.26). This is to facilitate the recovery of the sector under safe conditions, as well as three framework documents (operator framework, passenger framework, and seafarer framework) developed by the United Kingdom’s Chamber of Shipping together with CLIA.

IMO and UNWTO emphasise that the resumption of cruise ship operations would also benefit the wider maritime community, since passenger ships participate in the automated mutual-assistance vessel rescue (AMVER), and are often requested by Rescue Coordination Centres to offer assistance to ships in distress at sea.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has placed the world in an unprecedented situation. To slow the spread of the disease and mitigate its impacts, travel is being curtailed and borders are being closed.

More than 80 per cent of global trade by volume is carried by maritime transport, which moves the world’s food, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods and components, and is vital to sustainable development and prosperity.

Maritime transport is dependent on the two million seafarers, who operate the world’s merchant ships. It is estimated that currently about 400,000 seafarers are working beyond their original contracts, with a further 400,000 waiting ashore to relieve them.


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