Berlin / Schwerin (dpa) - With the upcoming restart of cruise tourism, the Greens are pressing for a fundamental change of course in the industry.
"Less and cleaner - that must be the motto," says a position paper available to the German press agency, which has now been published by politicians from the Greens in the Bundestag. Claudia Müller, Markus Tressel and Stefan Schmidt, spokesmen for the maritime economy, tourism and municipal finance, denounce the unchecked growth over the years with ever larger ships, high environmental pollution, poor remuneration for staff and extensive tax evasion into so-called offshore paradises.
The corona pandemic had given the global booming cruise ship a stop in spring. After infection also occurred on ships, some countries closed their ports. A little later, the trips were completely stopped. In Germany, the shipping companies now want to resume business, initially with sea trips without shore leave. Tui Cruises will start from Hamburg on July 24 for the first short cruise to Norway. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will depart Hamburg from Hamburg to the Danish South Seas on July 31, and Rostock-based cruise company Aida will sail from Hamburg to the North Sea on August 5.
The industry has already laid down clear rules for the resumption of cruise operations and, according to the umbrella organization Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), has developed comprehensive prevention and hygiene measures. "Safety and health for guests and crew are top priorities for CLIA member shipping companies," Germany director Helge Grammerstorf emphasized in a message. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises announced that the restart would be very controlled. "We even go beyond the official regulations," assured Karl J. Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, which operates relatively small ships.
The industry has also responded to ongoing criticism from environmentalists. Shipowners say they now use less environmentally harmful drives for newbuildings. For example, Aida equipped the first ships with engines for liquefied natural gas. In addition, shore power is available in more and more ports, so that the ship's diesel no longer has to run on board for the power supply when it is idle.
That is not enough for the Greens: "At the start of the season, I expect cruise shipping to continuously implement more sustainability and not just announce changes again," said Claudia Müller, a member of the Bundestag, as co-initiator of the five-page catalog of demands. The industry must use the crisis and reposition itself. "Frequent pollution of the air and the sea, exploitation of employees and shifting profits to tax havens were anything but sustainable," she complains. Acceptance can only be regained with fair working conditions, clean ship propulsion systems and economic transparency.
"In the past, too high a social and ecological price was paid for the steep growth of the cruise industry," criticized Stefan Schmidt from Bavaria. "Now would be a good opportunity to tackle the problem of overtourism," said Markus Tressel from Saarland.
In their paper, the Greens politicians advocate a fresh start "with a sense of proportion and foresight". New propulsion technologies, the retrofitting of older ships and the supply of shore power in ports should noticeably reduce pollutant emissions. Travel to particularly sensitive destinations such as Venice, Dubrovnik or the polar regions should be limited. The number of passengers per ship is to be limited to a maximum of 5000 worldwide, and up to 500 for arctic and similar areas worthy of protection. A ship is currently being built in Wismar for an Asian client, which is to offer space for 9000 travelers.
Working conditions and wages for ship personnel are to be improved through new, internationally binding standards. The “exertion of tax-saving models”, for example with the headquarters of large cruise companies in Panama, Liberia or Bermuda, is to be consistently curbed at the international level. Technical innovations in the shipbuilding industry are to be subsidized by the state, but the grants are to be linked to sustainability conditions.
In order for cruise shipping to have a future again after the Covid 19 pandemic, it needs acceptance in society, the authors write. As the first steps in the wake of the corona pandemic, they expect consistent compliance with applicable hygiene and health standards, a reduction in the number of passengers, interval checks for infections on board and the creation of possible quarantine areas.
According to industry reports, the number of German cruise passengers rose to over three million for the first time last year. The associations DRV, Clia and IG River Cruises counted a total of 3.1 million guests. Around 2.5 million guests booked ocean cruises (previous year: 2.2 million), around 540,000 river trips (2018: 496,000). The organizers expect a massive drop in the number of guests and sales for the current year.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200711-99-753151 / 2