The UNWTO and the International Maritime Organization have called on governments to accelerate the safe return of the cruise sector.

A joint statement issued by the two UN agencies highlighted the importance of the cruise sector to the world economy, with small island states particularly reliant on the industry.

The two bodies urged governments to use EU guidance on the safe resumption of cruises to facilitate the recovery of the sector, in addition to framework documents created by the UK Chamber of Shipping and Clia.

They said: “The two agencies recognise the efforts made by the industry, countries and international organisations to protect the safety, health and well-being of passengers and crew, as well as the health of the population of destination port states of cruise ships.

“Since cruise operations were suspended worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the industry has been reviewing and enhancing its protocols to identify ways to go further in protecting the health of passengers, crew and the general public.”

They added: “IMO and UNWTO emphasise that the resumption of cruise ship operations will also benefit the wider maritime community, since passenger ships participate in the automated mutual-assistance vessel rescue (AMVER) and are often requested by Rescue Coordination Centres to offer assistance to ships in distress at sea.

“IMO and UNWTO reiterate their call to governments to designate all seafarers and marine personnel as key workers and remove any barriers to crew changes.”