While holiday sales are bouncing back, cruise lines and agents must be able to communicate the positive environmental impacts of the industry to an increasingly sustainability-focused consumer.
That was the message from Deloitte’s Alistair Pritchard, assessing areas for growth for those operating – and selling – the sector at Abta’s New Markets in Cruise conference in London this week.
Pritchard, Deloitte’s travel lead, said despite “an incredibly topsy-turvy year” for consumer leisure spending, fuelled by economic and political uncertainty, bookings during the September lates market “had been much stronger”.
This was in comparison to the lull experienced around the UK’s original Brexit date of 31 March, and subsequent extension to 31 October, which he said failed to bring about a significant sales increase.
Pritchard said cruising was “very well placed” to benefit, with Deloitte consumer research reporting an increased desire for unique experiences and family-friendly options.
However, he warned the sector must also promote its own strategies to limit overtourism with travellers’ awareness of the issue set to increase over time.
“The cruise industry is already doing a lot but when it comes to sustainability and overtourism, it is easy to point the finger at a big cruise ship arriving in Venice because of the visibility,” he told delegates.
“I’m not saying that overnight, sustainability will become the number-one issue for consumers to choose their holiday, but it is definitely rising up the list.”
Also emphasising the need for the cruise sector to “tell the positive story” around what it was doing on the issue was Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice-president UK and Europe and chair of Clia UK and Ireland.
Roberts said Clia had information available online on initiatives and statistics for agents to “equip themselves with” when quizzed by customers. “People are asking about sustainability more and more, and it’s important to have those answers to hand,” he said.
Of the 88 ships on order from Clia members globally, 20 will use liquefied natural gas, Roberts added.
He also highlighted the collaboration Clia has had with destinations – such as Dubrovnik – to stagger the number of ship arrivals.
Conversely, he slammed Amsterdam for its “cruise tax”, introduced in January, and the city’s level of dialogue with lines on its implementation.