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The past year and a half has been extraordinarily tough for travel agents, especially those dedicated to cruising, and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is very aware of the struggle and the efforts these advisors have made during the pandemic.

At the association’s annual North America Cruise360 Conference hosted at the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Fla., Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA, addressed the issues head on and in person exactly 501 days after the cruise industry voluntarily suspended global operations in response to COVID-19.

It was you and your voices that successfully made the case for cruise resumption in the United States.

“With industry leading protocols in place guiding the resumption of operations in Europe and Asia, and with the growing availability of vaccines, it was you and your voices that successfully made the case for cruise resumption in the United States,” Craighead said.

Her comments were made in reference to CLIA’s “Ready, Set, Sail” industry initiative that called on government officials to issue the exact instructions required to comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Conditional Sail Order, which is set to expire on Nov. 1, 2021.

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Craighead also acknowledged that CLIA met its objective of working with the CDC to resume U.S. cruise operations by this July, while also recognizing that hurdles that remain, including addressing misperceptions and promoting the industry’s proactive safety and health measures.

“The industry’s reputation has been challenged like never before,” she said. “We must do a better job correcting the record and telling the positive story of cruis[ing], including our investments in environmental sustainability, which totaled $23.5 billion last year. We’ve seen the power of our collective voice. Let’s build on this momentum, using facts to dispel myths and helping others better understand the positive contributions of the cruise industry around the world.”

RELATED: The Latest CDC Guidance on Cruising

At the Cruise360 Conference, North American CLIA travel trade members will be able to network and receive training related to all the latest developments in the international cruise industry to further their businesses.

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Cruise Lines International Association