Capital controls, the unstable political situation and September elections took a toll on Greek coastal shipping results for 2015, which Association of Greek Passenger Shipping Companies (SEEN) president, Michalis Sakellis, described as “unanticipated”.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Mr Sakellis said passenger traffic in 2015 fell by approximately 7 percent, while 2016 has already seen a reduction in transport traffic. This drop is due to a decline in domestic tourism. Mr Sakellis stressed, however, that there has thus far been no alarming drop or cancellation of bookings from abroad, and added that travelers are now opting all the more for air transport, especially for faraway destinations such as Crete, Rhodes and Santorini.
On a positive note, Mr Sakellis said the outlook for 2016 appears to be promising. “All indications for inbound tourism are positive and numbers may even exceed those of 2015. Coastal shipping has seen the addition of four new ships, while we observe an increase in the number of itineraries due to the expansion of the operating season for high speed vessels. We estimate that in 2016, 41,000 routes will be carried out, which may increase if necessary.”
Greek coastal shipping to benefit from refugee crisis
SEEN’s president also noted that Greek coastal shipping is bound in 2016 to benefit from the refugee crisis. In 2015, revenues of the companies involved in the transport of migrants — by chartered ships or regular services — grew by approximately 30 million euros.
Mr Sakellis also referred to the rapid decline of ships under a Greek flag operating in the Adriatic, underlining that currently there is no cruise ship in the Aegean under a Greek flag.
In the meantime, he underlined that “90 percent of our ports are problematic and the necessary projects are time-consuming and costly. Once again, we stress the need for measures. Our ports will be the main hurdle for the future developments in the service of our islands”.
On a final note, Mr Sakellis called for a fairer distribution of government grants in relation to land transport, which currently receives 260 million euros of the pie compared to 75 million euros allotted to shipping.
“The increased grants should go toward the frequency of services and the lease of modern ships.”