At Cruise Shipping Miami, the annual trade show for all things cruising, a signature event is the State of the Industry panel discussion featuring leaders from major cruise lines, discussing timely topics. Yesterday, we hoped to come away from that event with answers to questions raised by readers about a variety of topics. Safety, on-board programming and destinations as well as the changing nature of travelers; what you want from a cruise vacation, are all concerns that will affect our current and future travel choices. The good news is I have answers for you about all those things and more. The better news is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Let's take a look at the highlights.
Themed 'One Industry, One Voice' keynote speakers David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council and Christine Duffy, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) ran the numbers, noting continued growth of the cruise industry. Looking back at the phenomenal expansion and popularity of cruise vacations, 167 new ships since 2000 with 20 more in the next two years, both speakers verified what readers hoped between the lines of comments and questions: The cruise industry is healthy, growing and will offer more diversity in ships, options that we could ever have imagined.
As proof that our favorite vacation option is one to count on, Scowsill and Duffy offered some interesting facts. Worldwide, cruise travel contributes $6.6 trillion GDP to global tourism, contributing to the jobs of 260 million people, about one in 11 jobs on the planet. At-Sea and shore side cruise line employees are just one part of that too.
Suppliers, port workers, service providers and more can call claim to job stability and economic impact realized because cruise ships exist. Those semi trucks lined up at the port to bring supplies to the ship on embarkation day? That's a good visual to keep in mind as proof that our cruise fare means a great deal to a whole lot more people, people like you and I, than we might have imagined: all those goods and services boil down to jobs, a hot topic as we continue to recover from worldwide economic woes.
Bringing out the panel of industry leaders, the event turned immediately to the topic of safety, much like it did at last year's conference, just after the grounding of Costa Concordia. This year's safety-related issue: Carnival Triumph. The ship that was left dead in the water not long ago after an engine room fire knocked out propulsion and the ensuing media circus of the event.
"We are now focused on the lessons that we can learn from the incident, and also what additional operational redundancies might be available," said Carnival Cruise Lines' President and CEO Gerry Cahill, addressing the concerns travel professionals in the audience. Speaking from the heart, Cahill's demeanor was very much like what we saw in Mobile, Alabama when he promised “The full resources of the company has been committed to this effort,” explaining what happened and the thought process that went into their plan to address the incident.
Next up came each cruise line leader with an update on what they had in the works and comments on various question posed my the event's moderator. Exciting stuff is in store from each of the lines represented. I will save that for next time in a post titled One Industry, One Voice, Multiple Options.