In a joint statement, the IMO and UN World Tourism Organisation (WTO) have asked the cruise industry and Governments to continue their efforts to enable cruise ship operations to resume safely.
The organisations highlighted the importance of the cruise sector to the world’s economy. According to industry data, the cruise sector supports 1.2 mill jobs and contributes $150 bill to the global economy each year.
Tourism is vitally important for small islands states, where it sustains millions of livelihoods and brings substantial socio-economic benefits.
The two UN agencies also said that they recognised the efforts made by the industry, countries and international organisations to protect the safety, health and well-being of passengers and crew, as well as the health of the population of cruise ship destination port states.
Since cruise operations were suspended worldwide, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has been reviewing and enhancing its protocols to identify ways to go further in protecting the health of passengers, crew and the general public.
They 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 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 UK’s Chamber of Shipping together with CLIA.
IMO and UNWTO emphasised 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 Co-ordination Centres(RCCs) to offer assistance to ships in distress.
IMO and UNWTO also reiterated their call to Governments to designate all seafarers and marine personnel as ‘key workers’ and remove any barriers to crew changes.