True to predictions made by shipping industry insiders, cruise travel to Greece has declined in the first seven months of the year and is expected to remain below par in 2018.
Due to instability in neighboring Turkey, cruise companies removed Turkish ports from their itineraries this year and at the same time omitted Greek destinations. The ongoing migrant crisis, capital controls, Brexit and competition from Asia have also been cited for the lagging performance.
Indicatively, the number of luxury liners visiting the port of Iraklio, Crete, slumped by 28.4 percent and the number of passengers by 39.4 percent between January and July 2017.
The island of Rhodes, a popular stopover for cruise ships, recorded a 10.9 percent drop in cruise passenger arrivals to 98,127 in the first six months of the year. July arrivals were also down by 34 percent compared to a year before. For the month of August, 30 cruise liners are scheduled to stop over against 49 in August last year.
One of the most popular cruise destinations, Santorini, is also expecting a 24 percent decline in the number of ship arrivals this month.
Travelers appear to be avoiding cruise travel to the Mediterranean with occupancy levels at 72.6 percent, Yiannis Bras, CEO of 5 Senses Consulting & Development, told Greek daily Kathimerini. Bras said a basic step in the right direction would be devising a plan with Fraport Greece, manager of 14 regional airports, to reconnect with German cruise companies.
Last year, cruise giants replaced Turkish ports with Greek ones boosting cruise ship passenger arrivals to 5.2 million, up from 4.9 million a year earlier.
For 2017, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) has forecast a slump of 30 percent and 1 million tourists.