IT’S BEEN a long time between voyages but after more than two years the Australian cruise community finally got together in Sydney today.
Some 550 delegates gathered at the Hyatt Regency for Cruise360, the industry’s annual conference that this year met under the theme #LoveCruise.
The conference was designed to give agents and suppliers the chance to meet and learn what opportunities and challenges are facing the sector as it comes out of COVID-19.
Attendees were told to prepare for a resurgent summer cruise season, with 46 ships bringing economic opportunities back to ports around the country as part of a carefully managed revival.
“Each visit will bring new visitors and new opportunities for local communities, helping to rebuild an industry previously worth more than $5 billion a year to the Australian economy,” said Joel Katz, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia.
Sustainability was a key issue, with the cruise industry setting an ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050.
“As we come out of this, we’re going to be challenged on this around the world and our bottom line is, we’re all taking it extremely seriously and spending a lot of money trying to solve those problems,” said Gavin Smith, Vice President and Managing Director, Royal Caribbean Cruises.
“Travel is tough right now,” said Marguerite Fitzgerald, President, Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia. “People who cruise do so because they know that cruise lines go above and beyond to look after their guests.
“This is why our travel agent partners are so important because they’re the ones who can help explain that to people who don’t get it.”
Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises, highlighted distribution as a key challenge for the industry going forward.
“We’re probably 60 per cent down on travel advisers pre-COVID,” he said. “They’ve either retired or gone onto other things. There’s heavy demand and not enough people to deal with it.
“So we have got to build cruise specialism in our offices with new advisors. As cruise lines and CLIA we have to support that too. We have to engage proactively on training people to be cruise specialists – I think that’s the biggest challenge coming out of this.”
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