CLIA: Any Action to Limit Cruising is Unwarranted

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

March 6, 2020

©  junce11 / Adobe Stock

© junce11 / Adobe Stock

A cruise industry trade association has hit back at reports speculating that the U.S. government may move to discourage some travelers from taking cruises as part of a broader Trump administration effort to limit the spread of coronavirus.

"Any action to restrict cruising is unwarranted, and at odds with the World Health Organization which 'continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks'," the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in a statement on Friday.

U.S. officials are reportedly debating potential restrictions on cruise ship travel as part of its efforts to reduce coronavirus outbreaks on board cruise ships, which have been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the worst cruise ship incident since the novel coronavirus was first reported in December 2019, more than 700 of 3,711 passengers were infected aboard the Diamond Princess quarantined off the coast of Japan. At least six of those sick passengers have died.

This week, Diamond Princess' sister ship Grand Princess was barred from returning to San Francisco after it was discovered that two previous passengers had contracted the coronavirus and at least 35 people currently on board developed flu-like symptoms. Diagnostic sampling kits were delivered by helicopter on Thursday to test for possible COVID-19 infection.

Travel restrictions and fears of the virus spreading have led to voyage cancellations, and many cruise operators have seen their stocks sink heavily in the wake of the outbreak.

Cruise operators as well as port and government authorities have boosted precautionary measures globally. Earlier this week CLIA announced additional enhanced screening measures were being adopted in response to the epidemic, and today it said "proactive measures" have been put in place by the cruise industry based on "prevailing guidance from global health authorities".

CLIA warned "unreasonable" restrictions, if implemented, would have "long-lasting detrimental effects" for the cruise industry and beyond, including travel agencies, airlines, hotels and a broad supply chain of supporting industries.

"Singling out the travel and tourism industry, and cruise lines specifically, will have significant detrimental impacts—some possibly irreversible—on the national and local economies," the trade group said. "The cruise industry is a vital artery for the U.S. economy, supporting over 421,000 American jobs and contributing nearly $53 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018. Cruise activity supports."

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