CruiseIndustry Q&A: CLIA's Joel Katz shares how community engagement leads to better outcomes for destinations and cruise lines.

Why community should come first for cruise tourism

Dubrovnik is working with CLIA to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the Croatian city.
Dubrovnik is working with CLIA to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the Croatian city. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Goran Safarek

Under pressure from destinations concerned about over-tourism, the cruise industry has made destination management one of its key sustainability goals.

The industry is working with communities on shore to promote sustainable tourism practices and provide models for tourism management into the future.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) says its members are working more closely with partners at ports and in governments around the world to show leadership in the planning and management of visitation.

Collaborations in key locations are addressing concerns around appropriate tourism levels and provide working solutions that also safeguard economic opportunities for local people.

To say “cruise tourism” is to say “managed tourism”, says CLIA managing director Australasia & Asia, Joel Katz.

“It is planned and scheduled tourism. Ports and communities know who is coming and when, often months and years ahead. They can therefore use the opportunity to work with cruise lines and tour operators on planning, dispersal, transport, timing and other logistics.

“CLIA and cruise lines are placing an increasing importance on community engagement around the world, and this is part of our ambition to be leaders when it comes to destination stewardship and the promotion of responsible tourism,” says Katz.

A good example, according to CLIA, is Dubrovnik in Croatia, where the cruise association and the City of Dubrovnik have formed a partnership to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of the city through responsible tourism management, and to help establish Dubrovnik as a model of sustainable tourism.

The partnership brings together key stakeholders including the local community and involves collaboration on a destination stewardship roadmap for the city based on UN sustainable tourism criteria as well as initiatives like a coordinated berthing policy and a “respect the city” visitor education campaign.

More recently CLIA has embarked on new partnerships in other locations such as Corfu and Heraklion in Greece, working with local authorities to jointly fund tourism management assessments in partnership with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), that will set the benchmarks for sustainable visitation.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia & Asia, Joel Katz
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia & Asia, Joel Katz

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia & Asia, Joel Katz shares more on sustainability developments in Asia.

What progress are you making in Asia with destination management?

Cruise visitation is on a much smaller scale in Asia than some other parts of the world, but the aim is for cruising to develop in a responsible way that brings economic benefits for local communities without putting undue pressure on destinations.

CLIA and cruise lines are also forging closer working relationships with Asian-based organisations so that cruising can develop in a collaborative way.

Can you give us some examples?

CLIA recently took part in a cruise industry forum aimed at discussing new cruising opportunities in Thailand, including concepts for new destinations and cruise facilities to provide alternatives to existing ports.

The event was hosted by the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Trade of Thailand, in conjunction with Thai Cruise Business Association, and tackled future challenges including infrastructure priorities and how to expand Thailand’s cruise sector to include homeported ships and seasonal deployments.

In South Korea, CLIA recently joined the 2023 Asia Cruise Forum hosted by Jeju Tourism Organization where we outlined the cruise industry’s global sustainability commitments, including CLIA cruise lines’ pursuit of net zero carbon cruising by 2050.

As part of this we reinforced the importance of working together to achieve responsible destination management in ports across the region.

Is Singapore a shining light in developing responses to the pandemic?

CLIA and cruise lines have worked closely with the Singapore Tourism Board and other government authorities to establish the health framework which allowed a careful resumption of local cruising.

Singapore was a pioneer in implementing pandemic response plans for cruising, and the close working relationships we have in Singapore will be an important part of future collaborations to ensure cruising’s benefits are maximised.

Is China onboard with CLIA’s sustainable goals?

In China, CLIA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Cruise and Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA), which creates the foundation for both organisations to work together and develop a sustainable framework of shared objectives.

The MOU is seen as a positive step forward in the development of cruising in the region and will place a focus on supporting a safe cruise resumption and sustainable industry growth.

These and other relationships across Asia are critical to our industry’s development in a positive and sustainable way.

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