Florida's Space Coast ready to get back to work, restart the cruise industry
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PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (PRWEB) April 16, 2021
Florida's Space Coast, home to Port Canaveral -- the second busiest cruise port in the world, has been slow to recover from its recent cruise-related tourism losses.
"Port Canaveral is one of the most well-known, well-traveled and most-beloved cruise ports," said Peter Cranis, Executive Director of Florida's Space Coast Office of Tourism (SCOT). "Our destination offers cruise passengers access to the best retail, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment for a pre- or post-cruise experience, and we are ready to get back to sailing, much like the rest of the world already has."
CDC SLOW TO ACKNOWLEDGE CHANGING COVID REALITY
The cruise industry has yet to resume operations from U.S. ports due to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) no-sail order remaining in place. The CDC's list of stringent guidelines for cruise operators, which includes 75 conditions such as social distancing mandates, mask guidance, COVID-19 testing protocols, and sanitation requirements, has proven difficult to navigate for many cruise lines.
The path to returning to cruising would require the CDC to rescind its no-sail order and revise its difficult-to-follow cruising guidance.
"For a year now, we have been working closely with our cruise partners and directly with the CDC to find a way forward for the return of cruising from Port Canaveral," said Port Canaveral CEO Capt. John Murray in a prepared statement on April 3.1 "Just today, CDC announced that vaccinated Americans could safely travel internationally. We're disappointed that this guidance for the cruise industry appears to be nothing more than an incremental step in a far-reaching process to resume passenger sailings in the U.S. with no definitive or target start date."1
The CDC has indicated its no-sail order could remain in place through November 2021.
FLORIDA TAKES THE HIT
The three busiest cruise ports in the world -- Port of Miami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades -- are all located in Florida. To account for these ports' losses, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recommended the seaports receive $258.2 million out of the state's share of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
"The cruise industry is essential to our state's economy and keeping it shut down until November would be devastating to the men and women who rely on the cruise lines to provide for themselves and their families," said Governor DeSantis in a recent roundtable.2
Ashley Moody, Florida Attorney General, weighed in alongside Governor DeSantis at the same roundtable saying, "The rationale for keeping U.S. cruises shuttered through the foreseeable future is based on outdated data and guidelines put in place before we had a COVID-19 vaccine."2 Moody went on to state that, "The federal government is acting outside its authority in singling out and docking the cruise industry while other tourism-based businesses continue to operate in accordance with health guidelines."2
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), along with eight other senators, sent a letter to Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, urging the Biden administration to immediately issue clear guidance for the resumption of operations for the cruise industry.3
"The Administration has overlooked an entire industry by failing to provide guidance for the safe resumption of cruises," said the lawmakers in a joint statement.3 "The future of the cruise industry and thousands of good paying jobs at our states' ports and supporting businesses are now at stake."3
Port Canaveral alone has racked up nearly $90 million in economic losses since the start of the pandemic, not to mention the additional economic impact felt across the Space Coast due to the lack of cruise-bound tourists coming and going from the area. Experts on the Space Coast say there could be tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in lost revenue attributed to the no-sail order. There are also thousands of locals left without work because of the industry shutdown.
"The cruise industry represents approximately 20 percent of all tourism-related revenue on the Space Coast," said SCOT's Peter Cranis. "Bringing cruising back to Port Canaveral is essential to our destination's post-pandemic recovery and the local Space Coast economy."
SEAPORTS IN EUROPE, ASIA, AND THE CARIBBEAN OPEN SAFELY
Ports in Europe and the Caribbean are open and operating successfully. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), nearly 400,000 passengers have sailed from 10 major cruise markets in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific over the past eight months. The CLIA also reported that additional sailings are planned in the Mediterranean and Caribbean for this spring and summer. 4
"With cruises successfully and safely setting sail for weeks in Europe and Asia and the CDC announcing vaccinated Americans can safely travel internationally, we're eager to get back to cruising on the Space Coast," stated Cranis.
AMERICANS READY TO SET SAIL
Recent data from a Spectrum Reach study shows two out of three people surveyed who've cruised in the past are willing to do so in 2021. In the same survey, approximately 75 percent of respondents who had cruised previously stated they're considering planning a cruise vacation within the next three years.5
"All the data we're seeing indicate Americans are eager to hit the high seas again," explains Cranis. "And as the percentage of fully-vaccinated cruise loyalists grows, interest in cruising-related activities and inquiries are increasing, which is an excellent sign of what's to come when we open the floodgates."
Most major cruise lines are preparing to set sail this summer, despite the no-sail order in place, with some planning to cruise as early as June. The majority of operators are setting cruise dates, booking vacations and offering deals to eager cruise passengers.
Cranis says he's hopeful these planned cruises will have the opportunity to set sail. "If we can return to cruising by late spring, our local post-pandemic recovery can kick into overdrive, and our hoteliers, restaurants, retail shops and other small businesses will be able to breathe a long-awaited sigh of relief."
About Florida's Space Coast
Florida's Space Coast is a family-friendly destination located 45 minutes east of Orlando and encompasses Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and the Beaches, Port Canaveral, Titusville, Palm Bay and Viera. It's home to the world's second-busiest cruise port and 72 miles of beaches (the longest stretch in the state), as well as 190,000 acres of wetlands and waterways full of habitat found nowhere else. Florida's Space Coast is home to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where rockets still soar into orbit. For more information, contact Florida's Space Coast Office of Tourism at (877) 572-3224 or visit http https://www.visitspacecoast.com.
1(Space Coast Daily)
2(Florida Governor Ron DeSantis)
4(Cruise Lines International Association)
5(Cruise Lines International Association)
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