Cruising’s new advocate

Chritine Duffy, president of CLIA, explains why better times lie ahead
Cruising’s new advocate

By Rebecca Gibson |

Cruising is big business around the world, but the heart of the industry is in the USA. Thus, when the American economy started to turn down a few years ago, and the US cruise business started to go with it, the impact was felt around the world.

Christine Duffy, who became CLIA’s new president and CEO earlier this year, is happy that the industry is showing signs of emerging from the doldrums. Duffy said: “As a global industry, cruise lines have managed to navigate through some tough economic times that have made vacationing decisions for millions of people more difficult. Our members have also worked through adversity created by geopolitical events and natural disasters. It is great to see the progress that was made in 2010. The cruise industry provides products that consumers value highly; the purchase of those products provides significant direct and indirect economic impact that benefits the economic wellbeing of Americans everywhere.”

CLIA’s figures show that the cruise industry in North America employs over 300,000 people, earning wages of over US$15 billion. The industry’s total economic impact on the US as a whole was almost US$38 billion in 2010; significantly, this figure represented a near eight per cent growth on the previous year, supporting Duffy’s belief in the revival of American cruising.

“The cruise industry can be optimistic about its continued growth and success,” she said. “CLIA member lines have had an average annual passenger growth rate of more than seven per cent since 1980. In 2010, capacity increased by 8.1 per cent yet CLIA member line ships continued to operate at 103.1 per cent occupancy.

The reasons for this success, I think, are reflected in what consumers are telling us about their attitudes toward vacationing and cruising in particular. In a nutshell, the cruise industry continues to innovate and deliver on the cruise product promise, with the result that millions of Americans are intending to take a cruise in the near future.”

Duffy joined CLIA after ten years with Maritz Travel, one of the largest meeting, event and incentive travel management companies in the world. Starting her career as a travel agent, she rose to be president and CEO of the company, managing more than US$700 million in client programmes. She served on the Meeting Professionals International MPI Board of Directors for six years, serving as chairwoman in 2005-2006. Duffy founded MPI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, served as its inaugural chairwoman, and has been a regular speaker for the industry on women’s leadership. Corporate Meetings and Incentives chose her as a ‘Top 10 Women Leaders in the Meeting Industry’ and Meetings News named her one of the ‘25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry’ four times.

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