CLIA marks time as it looks for “strategic direction”

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CLIA Southeast Asia, the local arm of Cruise Lines International Association, is marking time while the American-based global body makes up its mind about its future.

The move means a unified agent training program will continue to be delayed.

The local organisation, which replaced the Asian Cruise Association and was designed to create uniform policies in Southeast Asia’s burgeoning local cruise market, ran for 19 months headed by an outsourced management company.

But while there was much discussion about providing training, a unified approach never eventuated.

CLIA Southeast Asia, based in Australia, created a strong platform for training and provided many of the conferences around the region with the services of its training head, Peter Kohler.

Many in Asia, including government bodies, expressed the wish that the Australian arm be charged with bringing their training modules into Asia.

It is still hoped, eventually, the US CLIA board will agree that this would be a popular solution.

But no-one could tell ASEAN Cruise News when a decision would be made – though it is known that CLIA has ordered the ASIA Cruise Trends Report to be updated.

It is believed that the organisation will continue to attending events and keep “the shop open” – but won’t move forward on any plans until its direction has been agreed.

On its first birthday a year ago, then CLIA Southeast Asia president Ann Sherry told ASEAN Cruise News: “There has been a step change in the volume of ships coming into the region along with the number of countries in South East Asia exploring cruise strategies.

“We are undertaking a review of CLIA South East Asia’s capability in order to identify priorities and focus to maintain this positive momentum in future years.

“It is vital to ensure that the travel agent community is in the best possible position to understand the cruise product as well as the ports and destinations for the growing number of ships in the Asian region.”

Ms Sherry continued: “We will leverage the rapid growth in the Australian market and the work that CLIA Australasia has done in this region.

“CLIA Australasia Managing Director Neil Linwood is assisting in the South East Asia operational review providing the benefit of his many years of cruise industry experience.”

At the start of the year, David Goh, secretary general of CLIA SE Asia, told ASEAN Cruise News the organisations is increasingly recognized in the region and is in the mindset of travel agents, tour suppliers, port authority officials and government bodies.”

He said at the time one of the stumbling blocks he faced on training came from cruise lines reluctance to pay S$120 per person for the training of travel agents.

“Cruise lines usually provide training of travel agents in-house. Now the association is promoting fee-based training and there is a bit of resistance to payment of fees.

“It’s a question whether lines see the value proposition.‘’

He said he was optimistic about the growth of the cruise industry predicting the number of local cruisers to increase by 20 per cent next year.”