Christine Duffy explains CLIA's new global trade organization

Christine Duffy, President, and CEO of CLIA explains CLIA’s new global CLIA Trade Association.

Carrie Finley-Bajak: What is CLIA’s annual Leadership Forum? How have the duties of the leadership team changed over the years? It seems like there is a big push for a global cruise presence this year, would that be accurate?

Christine Duffy:   CLIA’s annual Leadership Forum is a way to bring our cruise line members and industry partners together to share information, ideas and plans for the coming year.  During the most recent conference in November 2012, CLIA’s Board of Directors approved recommendations for the industry to form a new unified association structure.  Following Leadership Forum, we announced that nine cruise associations had agreed to operate under a common organization under the CLIA name with a unified structure to serve as the voice and advocacy leader of the global cruise industry. Cruising continues to grow exponentially worldwide and our issues, regulators, and stakeholders span international borders.  Consequently, the industry needs the structure to provide for more effective global coordination, communication, and stakeholder engagement.

Carrie Finley-Bajak:  Tell me more about why CLIA’s Board of Directors feels that the industry should form a new unified association model.  As a past travel agent and a specialist in social media strategies for cruising, this is extremely interesting to me.

Christine Duffy:  Now more than ever, the industry’s actions are intrinsically linked at the local, regional and global levels and the cruise associations around the world recognize this.  The objectives of the new association are to develop a more unified and coordinated approach for the cruise industry at the global level, create a structure to permit the industry to speak with one voice, and establish a unified structure for governance and decision-making at the global and local levels.

Carrie Finley-Bajak:  Can you tell me more about how the European Cruise Council has morphed into CLIA Europe? What are the advantages of this union for travel agents and the cruising public?

Christine Duffy:  All of the associations that are part of the new association will use the CLIA name with a regional designation. The industry will continue to be represented at the local level by regional and national associations, maintaining a structure for governance and decision-making at a local level.  In Europe specifically, regional activities will be managed by CLIA Europe, while country-specific activities and programs will be managed by national cruise association like CLIA UK, who provide training to UK-based travel agents and promotes cruising in the UK.  Cross-cutting global issues will be managed collectively by the industry at the global organizational level. The objective of this change is to provide the industry with a more coordinated and efficient leadership presence at the global level to accommodate the needs of the industry today and into the future. For travel agent members, the new association offers enhanced information sharing, networking, and training on a broader scale.   For the cruising public, there will be greater global visibility for our industry, which will help attract first-time cruisers and convince them of the benefits that only a cruise can provide.

Carrie Finley-Bajak: How important is the industry’s new global structure? Can you elaborate on what that is and comment on any future goals or action items and how they impact cruise customers?

Christine Duffy:  The association will be governed by a global board of directors and executive committee of major international cruise lines.   Howard Frank, Vice Chairman, Chief Operating Officer and member of the Executive Committee, Carnival Corporation & plc will serve as Chairman of the Board through 2013.  I will serve as the Global President and CEO of the new association.  CLIA Global will have leadership and staff dedicated to technical and regulatory issues, associate members and executive partners, industry relations, research, and communications.  The objective of this change is to provide the industry with a more coordinated and efficient leadership presence at the global level to accommodate the needs of the industry today and into the future.  The cruising public will benefit from greater awareness of our dynamic, growing industry, which surpassed 20 million global passengers in 2011 for the first time ever.

Carrie Finley-Bajak:  you moderated the Professional Women in Cruise Forum, a networking breakfast for 40 women in our industry. To me, cruising seems like a very male-dominated industry when it comes to operations. I would love to highlight some of the females in our industry who are paving the way for more of us to get involved.

Christine Duffy:  There are many women in the cruise industry who have paved the way for others, including: Eleni Kalisch, Vice President, Federal Government Relations, Royal Caribbean; Ann Sherry, CEO, Carnival Australia; Mona Ehrenreich, General Counsel, Princess Cruises; Diane Moore, President, Paul Gauguin Cruises; Pamela Conover, CEO, SeaDream Yacht Club.

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