The Dialogue was announced in the European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism, adopted a year ago, and answers a specific request from stakeholders.
According to the European Commission, the Dialogue on cruise tourism aims to enhance synergies in the sector, targeting best practice sharing in innovation, competitiveness and sustainability strategies.
Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella opened the conference by highlighting the importance of sustainable cruise tourism for Europe and reminding all stakeholders present that “We all have a strong interest in working towards a more sustainable, a more competitive and a more inclusive cruise tourism for Europe”.
MedCruise: “Stakeholders need to work together”
MedCruise joined the Dialogue and sent the message that “Stakeholders need to work together” in order to enjoy the benefits and growth of cruising.
The association, which represents ports in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas, also revealed that it would intensively work with other European port organizations to develop a European Code of practice for EU cruise ports.
According to Medcruise President Carla Salvadó, it is necessary for all stakeholders to set up a value chain and work together. “When ports need to provide functional investment, cruise lines need to work on ensuring commitment with ports and destinations, whereas city managers have to understand the cruise idiosyncrasy”, she said.
The President of MedCruise recommended that a European agenda should focus on ways to facilitate the sustainable growth taking into account that many ports must comply with the same legislation. She also suggested clear guidelines for environmental issues and facilitation of visa procedures for crew & passengers.
“MedCruise since October 2013, together with CLIA Europe, had detailed very specific proposals that would benefit cruising throughout Europe.”
CLIA Europe calls for concrete measures
On its part, CLIA Europe stressed that the focus should be on concrete measures to overcome the hurdles to cruise tourism’s growth. CLIA Europe represents Europe’s multi-billion euro cruise industry which employs almost 340,000 people in Europe.
At the conference, CLIA Europe Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago gave a speech and made the case for further changes at the EU level in order for cruise tourism to continue to increase its contribution to Europe’s economic recovery, particularly in coastal areas that have been hit disproportionately hard by the economic downturn.
“The cruise industry is already an essential part of Europe’s economic recovery and, with more support from national and European regulators we could do much better,” he said.
Mr. Vago underlined that the launch of the Pan-European Dialogue was welcome evidence of change. “But change must continue if Europe is to remain the world’s ‘number one’ tourism destination.”
This first conference brought together more than 300 representatives of coastal tourism stakeholders, port authorities and cruise operators, a clear statement on the importance of the Dialogue for the sector.
Participants had the opportunity to discuss and find joint solutions to issues such as congestion in ports, the economics of cruise visits for coastal communities, saturation of the most popular destinations, implementation of existing legislation (e.g. reception facilities for waste management at ports), environmental challenges and the potential for innovation. Regional challenges and opportunities for the sector were also being debated in specific workshops dedicated to each sea-basin.