With the deadline to submit comments to the CDC's request for public input on the resumption of cruising just days away, ASTA urged travel advisors to make their voices heard.
The Society sent out a note to members Thursday titled "Help us lift the CDC's 'No Sail Order,'" and it said the CDC's move suggests that changes to the order "may be on the horizon." ASTA created a portal to help advisors answer the questions posed by the CDC and offers some suggested language to use in a response.
"This is our chance to urge the CDC to work with the cruise lines and put the necessary safety protocols into place to lift the No Sail Order as soon as possible and as safely as possible," the ASTA advisory said. The deadline to submit is September 21.
Suggestions include letting the CDC know that few sectors have been as hard hit by Covid-19 or face a longer road to recovery than the travel agency industry, and that "the No Sail Order has been a key factor in the decimation of the agency business."
ASTA cited data from Phocuswright indicating that 60% of travel advisors nationwide specialize in selling ocean cruises and 52% in river cruises and said that last year, travel agencies and advisors sold approximately $13 billion worth of cruises in the U.S. "All of this economic activity has come to a halt, with widespread agency staff furloughs and terminations being the inevitable result. Public health concerns are paramount here; however, the CDC must not ignore the catastrophic economic consequences of its action," the ASTA suggested response says.
CLIA has also been urging travel advisors to participate, with Charles Sylvia, CLIA's vice president of trade relations calling it "vitally important."
"This is your only and best opportunity to tell the federal government what you're experiencing as a result of the No Sail Order, the impact on your business, and your perspective as an expert on cruise travel," he said.