The challenges facing the cruise industry in Dubrovnik have been a hot topic for the past decade. These very challenges were the main topic at the Tourism and Strategy congress held in Dubrovnik, in the Hotel Valamar President this week. An international panel discussed best practises in the cruise ship industry and one of the participants was the President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Cindy D’Aoust.
The Dubrovnik Times caught up with D’Aoust to discover her opinions on the route that Dubrovnik is taking and how the cruise ship business views the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” Established in 1975, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, providing a unified voice and leading authority of the global cruise community. CLIA supports policies and practices that foster a safe, secure, healthy and sustainable cruise ship environment and is dedicated to promoting the cruise travel experience.
Dubrovnik has faced problems with tourism overcrowding and one important factor is the cruise ships that arrive in the city. Do you welcome the measures that the Mayor of Dubrovnik has introduced to restrict the number of cruise ships in the coming years?
I would answer that differently. We respect the goal that he had to help create a sustainable tourism environment. I don’t think the answer in tourism is ever stopping, let’s say by putting caps, because we all have a role to play in this. It isn’t a cruise ship problem. We are part of tourism and we are part of the solution.
CLIA is an organisation that primarily looks after the needs and concerns of cruise ship companies. Why then has the City of Dubrovnik been invited to become a member? Is this not a conflict of interests?
Absolutely not, we all need to collaborate as partners. It isn’t an “either/or” situation we all need to be together and try to figure out the long term solutions. The City of Dubrovnik are a partner of CLIA and not a member, our members are cruise ship companies.
One of the problems is that cruise ships are concentrated in one part of the year. Can you foresee a time when Dubrovnik is seen as an all-year round cruise destination?
The reality is that cruising is always going to be driven by the demand of the passengers. More and more passengers are interested in travelling off-season or finding new seasons. So to answer your question I think we will see that in the future.
In 2020 the Mayor of Dubrovnik has announced a reduction of cruise ships to no more than two per day. How do you respond to this measure?
Again I think the answer is for us all to work together on finding a solution. I am hoping that at this festival we can really talk about developing better infrastructure and we can develop better tour opportunities and how we can extend the season. One solution will not be the best solution.
Generally, are your members, the cruise ship companies, satisfied with Dubrovnik as a destination? What feedback do you receive?
Dubrovnik is a very, very popular destination. People love coming here and that is why there are so many tourists. So I am also sure that with the popularity we need to figure out ways to be able to increase visitors to come to this great destination.
How has the cruise ship industry changed over the past twenty years?
What is so unique to the cruise ship industry is their ability to listen to their passengers and make changes. The cruise ship industry listens to their passengers and respond immediately.
I believe that you will step down at the end of this year. How would you sum up your mandate?
Yes, I am stepping down at the end of this year. I think my greatest legacy will be that we have a great community that are all working together for future goals. Some of the best leaders in the industry are involved in CLIA so that’s my legacy it that we have built a good team.