How CLIA is driving global industry growth

The organisation is creating new opportunities for operators and travel agents to work together and strengthen the cruise sector. Director of CLIA UK & Ireland Andy Harmer speaks with Rebecca Gibson

How CLIA is driving global industry growth

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

How has the cruise industry evolved over the past year? 
Although global passenger numbers for 2018 have not yet been released, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) expects the overall figures to show that around 28.2 million people took a cruise, which would be more than 5% year-on-year passenger growth. This would follow on from the more than 4% passenger growth recorded in 2017 and indicate an increase of more than 45% over the past 10 years.

What factors do you think have led to the rapid growth of the cruise industry over the past year and what initiatives does CLIA have in place to sustain this growth in 2019? 
The cruise industry is the fastest-growing category in the leisure travel market. A key reason for this is the continued investment and innovation within the industry, which attracts both new-to-cruise and repeat guests. Younger generations are embracing cruise travel and multi-generation cruising where grandparents, parents and children all sail together is becoming increasingly popular. The rapid growth is also thanks to the hard work and dedication travel agents put in every single day to combat the myths of cruising and educate their clients on the incredible experiences a cruise holiday can offer. To sustain this growth, CLIA will continue to work closely with travel agents, ensuring they are kept up to date with the latest news and developments within the cruise industry through online resources and CLIA events.

What are the key priorities for CLIA UK & Ireland in 2019 and why? How do these goals fit with CLIA’s strategies to grow the global cruise industry? 
The key priority for CLIA UK & Ireland is to support our members – travel agents, cruise lines and executive partners – and help them work together as one unified body so they can collectively drive the growth of the global cruise industry.

How will CLIA UK & Ireland work with its members and other travel industry associations to better understand their needs and improve the cruise industry this year? Can you share any examples of new initiatives? 
Over recent years we have seen a significant increase of interest in expedition cruises, so CLIA will host its first-ever Expedition Cruise Forum this March. This event aims to showcase the incredible experiences that expedition cruises offer and will be packed with useful and insightful information, helping travel agents capitalise on this growing popularity.

Also in March, CLIA will host its biggest-ever river cruise roadshow, visiting six UK cities over a two-week period. The roadshows will offer travel agents and cruise lines invaluable, expert CLIA advice on trends, river cruise experiences and sales opportunities. These sessions will be combined with the opportunity to meet with river cruise operators to learn about each line’s unique selling points and latest news. 

Another new CLIA initiative is the luxury and expedition cruise showcase, taking place in three UK cities in October. At previous similar showcases, travel agents had the opportunity to meet cruise lines face-to-face in a ‘speed training’ environment. This will still be part of the showcase events, but there will also be an additional panel featuring industry experts, so travel agents can gain a deeper insight into what the luxury and expedition cruise sector has to offer in terms of guest experience and destinations, and how to attract the right customer.

In what way do you think the cruise industry will evolve in 2019 and how will CLIA UK & Ireland help its members to capitalise on any emerging new trends?
In recent years, repeat ocean cruise guests have been looking for something new and different, which has led to significant growth in the luxury, expedition and river cruise sectors. As such, CLIA UK & Ireland has created the aforementioned events to give travel agents and cruise line members the opportunity to network and share the latest news and developments. This will help CLIA’s members capitalise on these emerging trends. 

What makes you most excited about the cruise industry?
Cruise lines constantly innovate and evolve the guest experience both on land and at sea, which arguably makes cruise the most exciting and forward-thinking sector in the travel industry. There truly is a cruise for everyone and this year we expect to see 30 million people from around the world to choose a cruise. New innovations and onboard technology will revolutionise the cruise industry and with 44 new ships bringing over 80,000 new berths by the end of next year, we will not only see the cruise holiday experience change as we know it, but we can also expect to see the next generation of cruisers take to the sea. 

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Tuesday, April 23, 2019