ASTA to the CDC: It's time to cruise again

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Bimini ships at port coronavirus
Idled Princess Cruises ships. The CDC requested comments on the resumption of cruising.

It's time to restart cruising from U.S. ports, ASTA told the CDC in response to the agency's request for information on the resumption of cruising.

In ASTA's letter to the CDC, the Society's CEO, Zane Kerby, called the suspension of cruising "a key factor in the decimation of the travel agency sector, in particular."

ASTA member surveys have revealed that, for the vast majority of agencies surveyed (94.3%), income is down at least 75%. Around three-quarters believe that without additional federal aid, they will go out of business in six months or less.

"While public health is paramount for our members, the CDC must not ignore the catastrophic economic consequences of its No Sail Order on travel agencies and cruise-connected businesses of all stripes," Kerby wrote.

Kerby argued that the cruise industry has a long history, far longer than Covid-19, of protecting health and safety with robust cleaning and health and safety practices. Thus, ASTA is "confident that this longstanding commitment to public health will continue as cruising resumes."

ASTA offered some statistics on consumer sentiment, as well, from its twice-monthly research into the subject. 

The Society found consumers largely seem ready to travel.

If the pandemic suddenly ended, ASTA found, 47% of respondents, the majority, said the large discretionary purchase they would make would be a trip, followed by remodeling a home (21%), buying a new or better vehicle (19%) and buying an expensive item (12%).

ASTA also polled consumers who have taken a cruise in the past. Most (73%) said they were ready to go on a cruise now. Another 18% said they would need a Covid-19 vaccine or treatment to cruise now, and another 9% said they would be willing to resume cruising with assurances from authorities that it is safe.

Kerby said the Society is confident that cruise lines and public health officials will resolve any issues with cruise ship operations.

"We ask simply that this process be completed as quickly as possible, and the No Sail Order lifted as soon as is practicable thereafter," Kerby said.

ASTA last week encouraged advisors to share their comments with the CDC. The Society said close to 700 registered their comments.

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