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Is cruising necessary? Q&A with Global Cruise Activist Network President

Karla  Hart is the founding Director Global Cruise Activist Network in Alaska.

She will join Dr. Elinor Garely, eTurboNews New York in an interview and a Q&A by WTN members and eTN readers.

Karla Hart, President, Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN)

Founding Member, Juneau CAN Rethink Tourism

The cruise industry has had and continues to have a significant role in spreading COVID-19 – initially through inertia and then through negligence. The outcome of neglect and mismanagement is the total suspension of cruise ships in the United States, and serious limits on cruise operations in other parts of the world.

For decades the industry has denied its contributions to air and water pollution, the exploitation of crew members and the dismissal of multiple crimes committed against employees and passengers. Since the arrival of the pandemic the industry has been instrumental in spreading the disease among local residents, passengers and crew members. The industry, not known for its ethics and social responsibility, has been slow to acknowledge the needs of crew members stranded at sea for months, with little hope for repatriation. The cruise line management has repeatedly ignored the requests from crew to return to their home countries and to be compensated for the time they have been quarantined on the ships without access to money, friends or family.

Stop! Prepare to Restart

The cruise industry has been a major contributor to the economies of many cities, states and countries. The absence of cruising and cruisers has created serious economic problems for the port locales who have relied on the revenue generated by this industry to support the community in terms of jobs, and taxes.

The Global Cruise Activist Network (GCAN), directed by Karla Hart, notes both the challenges COVID-19 has brought to the industry and the economic hardships the absence of the industry has created in its newly diminished role as a tourism partner. The Network is not opposed to the industry but rather seeks to have cruise companies delay rebooting their operations until they address and resolve safety and security issues that impact on passengers, crew and the locales.

GCAN seeks equitable and responsible leisure travel that optimizes economic benefits to all stakeholders, while eliminating the negative social, public health and environmental impacts of cruising on port communities, workers and passengers. To this end, GCAN wants cruise line operators to submit concrete plans that include explicit and complete safety and security guidelines with benchmarks and timelines that commit management to specific levels of performance and compliance.

To be a responsible partner in the tourism industry, GCAN recommends that the cruise industry work closely with the communities and countries in which they do business, recognizing the economic, social and environmental impact of their ships, on crew, passengers and on the social and environmental fabric of their destination partners.

Sustainable Tourism Focus

The Global Cruise Activist Network’s President and Founder, Karla Hart, is a lifelong Alaskan who has been engaged in the travel and tourism industry for decades. In the 1990s Hart was the Governor’s Appointee to the Alaska Tourism Marketing Council and a founding board member of the Alaska Wilderness Recreation and Tourism Association following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Her newest project is starting the Juneau CAN Rethink Tourism project.

Juneau, one of the largest municipalities and wilderness areas in the United States and commands a total of 3,255 square miles. This city is the largest capital by area in the country and acts as the cultural hub for the state of Alaska, with a theatre company, clubs, bars, and many restaurants. The eco-tourism focus of the region includes viewing wildlife, fishing, and exploring glaciers. The area is home to 280 species of birds, brown and black bears, as well as five species of salmon and whales.

Tourism is an important part of the local economy with 1.3 million cruise passengers visiting the destination in 2019. Visitors spend almost $2.2 billion in the state and one in three are repeat visitors who visit as independent travelers or as a passenger on a cruise line.

The industry contributes $126 million in state revenues, and $88 million in municipal revenues that assists in funding services for residents and locales. The tourism industry generates a payroll of $1.4 billion with an economic impact of $4.5 billion (2018). One in ten people in Alaska are employed by tourism related businesses.





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January 16 2021


Date: January 16
Time: 12:00 am - 1:00 am
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