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Volume 690: debated on Thursday 11 March 2021

What steps his Department is taking to allow cruises to safely recommence during the covid-19 pandemic. (913244)

Domestic cruises will restart alongside domestic tourism and indoor hospitality. International cruises will be considered within the global travel taskforce.

The cruise sector is worth more than £10 billion to the UK economy and supports more than 88,000 jobs. Southampton is the cruise capital of northern Europe, with 500 cruise ship visits per year, each one generating £2.5 million for the local economy. Cruises are covid-safe and they are ready to go, but they need three months’ notice to become operational. Will my hon. Friend work with his colleagues in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to ensure that the Prime Minister’s road map includes cruises, so that operators have the confidence to start booking passengers?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend about the impressive steps taken by the cruise industry in its covid-19 framework, which was published in October 2020. He is right to celebrate the immense financial and employment contribution of the cruise industry to the UK, including to the Southampton, Itchen constituency, for which he speaks so powerfully. I am pleased that domestic cruises in England will be able to restart under step 3 of the road map, which will be no earlier than 17 May. The restart of international cruises will be considered through the global travel taskforce report on 12 April. My hon. Friend is right that travel advice remains a matter for the FCDO, but he can be absolutely sure that my officials and I will continue to engage with that Department.