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Cruise industry steps up efforts to protect the environment

Cruise industry steps up efforts to protect the environment

With the dynamic expansion of the worldwide cruise industry attention is focusing increasingly on the subject of sustainability. International shipping lines have been introducing a whole range of ecological and social measures.

Environmentalists and cruise experts are also calling for greater corporate social responsibility in the cruise sector. That is why Dr. Alexis Papathanassis, Professor for Cruise Management at the Hochschule (Institute of Higher Education) Bremerhaven, spoke out in favour of a more pro-active approach to sustainability at the recent World Travel Trends Forum in Pisa: “The industry should see sustainability as an opportunity and not as a threat.”

Between 2005 and 2010 the international cruise industry expanded by some 35 per cent. According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report, with a total of 6.5 million trips annually, cruise passengers in Europe already account for two per cent of all vacation travel. One consequence of this development is the need for increased responsibility in all matters of sustainability, and this has led, for example, to the introduction of sustainability reports, documenting the ecological and social measures being undertaken. Dr. Alexis Papathanassis wants to see a more integrated approach,  covering the entire cycle from the construction of a ship to its deployment and also incorporating aspects such as socio-cultural sustainability:  “More supervision is required instead of a patchwork of rules and regulations.” At present the cruise industry is applying a “Triple E” approach, comprising Engineering (the deployment of more eco-friendly ships), Education (activities and reports) and Enforcement (legal checks).

However,  Papathanassis believes that new technical solutions and more innovative mechanical engineering are needed if the ecological impact of cruises is to be reduced. Furthermore environmental protection should be made part of the cruising experience, for example in the form of on-board activities or excursions on land, so that passengers can support local communities.

The cruise industry has, until now, shown a lack of sustainable responsibility,  uniting all the various aspects and all those involved in this market, in order to create a combined approach. This requires a whole catalogue of measures such as legally based monitoring, technological innovations,  initiatives aimed a clarifying various aspects, and a more highly developed awareness of sustainability issues. “The industry should see sustainability as an opportunity and not as a threat”, concluded Dr.  Alexis Papathanassis. An acknowledged expert on the cruise market, he will be chairing an Executive Cruise Panel on the subject of “The worldwide cruise industry today and tomorrow” at the ITB Berlin Convention on Wednesday, 7 March 2012. The speakers taking part in this panel discussion will be: Larry Pimentel, President & CEO Azamara Club Cruises; Peter Shanks, President & Managing Director Cunard Line; Pier Luigi Foschi,  Chairman Costa Cruise Lines; Michael Bayley, Executive Vice President International Operations Royal Caribbean International; Enzo Visone, CEO,  Silversea Cruises.