Carnival Australia President Sture Myrmell has jumped to the defence of the cruise industry in Australia following an “intense focus” on the sector as the country grapples with the impact of COVID-19.
Carnival Australia represents seven cruise lines which operate in Australia, including Seabourn, Cunard, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, the latter of which has been under intense spotlight over the handling of its vessel Ruby Princess.
In a video posted on YouTube this afternoon [Wednesday 1 April 2020], Myrmell said it was distressing to see Ruby Princess “attract so much criticism in spite of some undeniable facts.” He said Ruby Princess followed all the formal health processes “to the letter” that were active at that time of the ship’s embarkation from Sydney several weeks ago.
Myrmell said it was also very distressing to see the devastating impact COVID-19 had on many travellers and their families aboard the ship. “They are very much in our thoughts,” he commented.
“However it is difficult for people and businesses who derive their livelihood and jobs from cruising to see it demonised in the way it has been and for its contribution to be discounted and devalued.”
“Suggesting that cruising makes no contribution to Australia’s economy and wellbeing [is as] hurtful as [it is] wrong,” Myrmell said, adding that Carnival Australia is part of an industry that contributes $5 billion to the economy and supports around 20,000 jobs.
He goes on to explain that cruising supports thousands of travel agents in Australia that have made cruising part of their businesses, in addition to the 300 staff at Carnival Australia’s headquarters in Sydney.
“It’s been bewildering for them to see governments and even the police turn on this industry with little consideration of them or their future.”
Myrmell said many ships have called Australia home for years, but have now been declared “unwelcome”.
Wrapping up his nearly five-minute video, the CLIA Australasia Chair said: “We look forward to Australia defeating this virus. We look forward to the return of cruising. We look forward to our travel and tourism economy getting back to normal.
“No organisation is more passionate about Australia because we are part of this country too.”