by Marco Cristofoli, ceo, Cruises International
Few sectors have been as profoundly impacted as tourism and travel, and Cruises International was among the first to feel the impact of COVID-19.
My best guesstimate is that 2020 will certainly be a loss in terms of business and we will probably only begin to see a slow trickle of revenue in the early part of next year.
All indications are that it will take months before we will see any meaningful business recovery. Even when the airlines and countries start operating, it will be a slow recovery, as people will want to feel safe before they start flying and cruising again, notwithstanding the fact that many will be financially impacted. There will certainly be an impact on consumer confidence, but South Africans are a resilient market and once the cruise lines have introduced the necessary protocols, I am confident that it will pick up again.
The American cruise industry and the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control) are in the midst of some tough negotiations regarding allowing cruise ships to return to sail, and many protocols are being floated.
Health and safety measures will become even more stringent than they are now and this will require a few changes.
- Cruise lines may start to introduce different policies for guests above a certain age or who have underlying conditions.
- The way that ships are deployed and how guests disembark will change, based on restrictions in different countries.
- The numbers of guests will be reduced, and space on board will be used differently. Cruise lines may only sell certain cabin categories
- Technology on board will quickly develop, with tools such as non-touch sensors.
- There will be a change in the way dining is conducted on board, especially in buffet restaurants.
There is no higher priority for those in the retail travel industry who want to sell cruises right now, than learning as much as possible about the disease and how to contain it.
I recommend that travel consultants who sell cruising use this time to prepare themselves.
- Learn all you can about this virus.
- Learn how the cruise lines are responding.
- Become sufficiently knowledgeable so that you become an even more indispensable part of the process.
Born and brought up in South Africa, a Wits Business school graduate, Marco Cristofoli started his career in the travel industry in 1987 at Rennies Foreign Exchange. As he progressed over the next 30 years, Marco’s well-known entrepreneurial approach and influence permitted him to be a part of many businesses across various sectors of the travel industry, both corporate and leisure. Before taking the helm at Cruises International, Marco was ceo of BCD Travel.