UNWTO, IMO Issue Joint Call For Safe Resumption Of Cruise Ship Operations

by Olamilekan Okeowo
With the cruise ship sector supporting 1.2 million jobs and contributing $150 billion to the global economy annually, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have issued a joint call for the safe resumption of the sector.

The two United Nations agencies in their call for the resumption of cruise ship operations highlighted the importance of the cruise sector to the world economy and the Small Island States.

“Tourism is vitally important for Small Islands States, where it sustains millions of livelihoods and brings substantial socio-economic benefits.

“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% of total exports for the majority of SIDS, and up to 80% for some.

“Since WHO declared the global pandemic, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) member cruise lines announced a voluntary suspension of operations worldwide, making the sector one of the first to do so.

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

“During this time of suspension, the cruise industry has been reviewing and enhancing its 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, e.g. the Guidance on the gradual and safe resumption of operations of cruise ships in the European Union in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic developed by EMSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the three framework documents (operator framework, passenger framework and seafarer framework)3 developed by the United Kingdom Chamber of Shipping together with CLIA, which identify measure and provide recommendations on the resumption of cruise ship operations from the United Kingdom in the context of the pandemic,” the statement reads.

The joint statement further called on 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 which was shared by IMO in Circular Letter No 4204/Add.26 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 emphasized that the resumption of cruise ship operations will 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

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