Health secretary Matt Hancock has declined to give assurances on the resumption of international cruising from the UK after being pressed on the urgency of the matter by a fellow Conservative MP.
Hancock was fielding questions in the Commons on Monday evening (14 June) shortly after prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed a four-week delay in the government’s plans to unlock the UK’s domestic economy, originally fixed for 21 June.
Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, told Hancock it was vital the government and the UK government’s medical experts devised a roadmap specifically for the international cruise sector.
"Economic harm and the sustainability of businesses is a real concern of mine," said Doyle-Price. "Let me take one particular sector of international travel businesses – cruises.
"The cruise industry has been closed for international sailing for more than 15 months, and there really needs to be clarity if we are going to save the sector, which supports 90,000 jobs and is worth £10 billion a year to the British economy.
"I ask my right honourable friend to really make it clear to the chief medical officer that the cruise industry needs its own road map to be able to embark on international travel again."
Hancock said Doyle-Price made a strong and important point, and pointed towards the efforts to restart domestic cruising – but stressed there remained barriers to restarting international cruise.
"I get the impact on business — of course I do — and especially on international cruises," said Hancock. "I am glad we were able to work with the cruise industry to get some domestic cruise trips going again, admittedly in a small way, essentially to pilot it.
"It is more difficult on an international front. I am very happy to work with her and my right honourable friend the transport secretary on what more we can do."