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UNWTO, IMO call for safe resumption of cruise operations

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Citing cruising's hefty economic clout and jobs creation, the World Tourism Organization and the International Maritime Organization stated their support for the safe resumption of cruise operations.

1.2m jobs and $150bn annual input

The cruise sector supports 1.2m jobs and contributes $150bn to the global economy every year, according to industry data, the two United Nations agencies said in issuing their joint statement Thursday. They added that tourism is 'vitally important for small islands states, where it sustains millions of livelihoods and brings substantial socioeconomic benefits.'

UNWTO and IMO also recognized 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 in destinations visited.

Comes as cruise operations are pulling back in Europe

The timing for the joint statement came as nascent cruise operations in Europe are pulling back or halting itineraries on spiking COVID-19 rates ashore in certain countries. Meanwhile, the US has created a pathway for resumption of sailings but it's going to be a complex and, likely, time-consuming process. Cruise Lines International Association members have suspended US-based operations through year's end.

The joint statement invited 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) to facilitate the recovery of the sector under safe conditions, along with three framework documents (operator framework, passenger framework and seafarer framework) developed by the UK Chamber of Shipping together with CLIA.

Cruise ships support search and rescue efforts

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

Further, the two agencies reiterated their call to governments to designate all seafarers and marine personnel as key workers and remove any barriers to crew changes.

The monumental efforts to repatriate cruise ship crew are detailed in a Seatrade Cruise Review cover story

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