World Travel & Tourism Council CEO Asks the CDC to Stop Bullying the Cruise Industry
"WTTC calls upon the CDC to stop singling out the cruise industry with harmful and unnecessary measures."
Following the CDC’s announcement that the Travel Health Notice level associated with cruise ships had been updated from Level 3 to Level 4 (the highest level) in response to the increase in cases onboard cruise ships, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) President and CEO, Julia Simpson, has an announcement of her own: It’s time for the CDC stop “singling out” the cruise industry.
“While we welcome the expiration of the CDC’s conditional sail order, its decision to continue elevated travel health notices is nonsensical,” Simpson said while speaking at the Fitur trade fair in Madrid. “The cruise industry has proven time and again that its enhanced health and safety protocols consistently achieve significantly lower rates of COVID-19 occurrence than onshore.”
“WTTC calls upon the CDC to stop singling out the cruise industry with harmful and unnecessary measures. Cruise lines have an excellent record for health and safety, and cruising continues to offer extraordinary travel experiences,” she added.
It’s a bit of an odd time to make such an argument, considering the investigation conducted earlier this month, which revealed that of the 101 cruise ships operating (or seeking to operate) in U.S. waters, 92 have reported cases of COVID onboard, according to Newsweek.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads easily between people in close quarters onboard ships, and the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose,” the CDC later updated the site to read.
Of course, the investigation is presumably the reason the WTTC believes the CDC to be singling out the cruise industry in the first place, but it obviously wasn’t totally unwarranted given the findings. And as you might recall, the very first coronavirus outbreak outside of Wuhan province actually happening aboard a cruise ship — Carnival’s Diamond Princess. So, you know, it’s probably a situation worth monitoring.
Further, the CDC’s Conditional Sailing Order — which mandated that all cruise ships in the U.S., or more specifically, foreign-flagged ships capable of carrying 250 people with an overnight itinerary, to complete simulated test cruises unless 98 percent of crew and 95 percent of passengers were fully vaccinated — expired on January 15. In short: COVID protocols are now entirely at the discretion of the individual cruise lines. How exactly that translates to the cruise industry being singled out at this point in time is a little unclear.
It’s also worth noting that the CDC is largely responsible for identifying red flags where the potential for COVID outbreaks are involved. I want the travel industry to recover as much as anyone, but if cruises are a hotbed for infection — that’s something, as a traveler, I would want to be made aware of and I don’t think that constitutes being “singled out.”
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