The cruise sector will have to undergo "a period of self-reinvention" to meet the challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, prime minister Boris Johnson has said.
Johnson made the comments during the government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday (10 June) when pressed by Southern Daily Echo local democracy reporter Maria Zaccaro.
"The pandemic has basically shut down the main industry in the city [Southampton], the cruise industry; hundreds of jobs are at risk, and people fear for their future – what will you be doing to ensure the cruise industry is safe?" Zaccaro asked.
Johnson responded: "Like all industries, the cruise industry – I think – is going to have to go through, in the short-term at least, a period of self-reinvention to make sure that it is Covid-secure.
"And I have no doubt it can do it. It is a great, great British industry, and we will support it in any way we can."
However, Johnson provided no detail as to how the government would support the sector, which like much of the travel industry has been devastated by the coronavirus crisis.
Southampton is the UK’s busiest cruise port, with a number of cruise lines homeporting ships in the city including P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Cunard.
In May, Carnival UK, which is based in Southampton, said it had begun consultations with staff “across all levels of the business” over potential job cuts.
The cruise giant said the Covid-19 pandemic had not only affected the holidays of its guests but had also impacted "every part of our business; our future deployment; the guest experience; our supply chain and our people on-ship and on-shore".
Up to 450 jobs were reported to be at risk.