Port Strikes Cause Trouble for Greek Cruise Tourism
The port of Piraeus on Saturday welcomed some 10,000 cruise passengers as dock workers continued an extended strike for the third week.
The 48-hour rolling strikes were launched by port employees in late May in demand for the protection of their labor rights following the the privatizations of the Piraeus (OLP) and Thessaloniki (TPA) port authority.
On Saturday, seven cruise ships reportedly arrived in Piraeus and another vessel was diverted to the port of Lavrio. Due to the absence of services at the port, the staff from the cruise ships were obliged to handle baggage and conduct other services.
“There was a small inconvenience for passengers, but we do not know how the (cruise) companies will perceive this”, Theodore Kontes, the president of Union of Cruise Shipowners and Associated Members (EEKFN), said to the media.
Mr Kontes noted that already the first results of the strikes are negative as prior to the arrival of the Carnival Vista cruise ship (with 4,000 passengers) to Piraeus on June 20, company officials are already seeking an alternative transit port.
EEKFN’s president warned that the strikes will endanger not only the current season, but the future of Greece’s cruise tourism. Already, Holland America Line, a Carnival Corporation subsidiary, has reportedly warned that it may exclude Piraeus from its itineraries in the future.
According to reports, the strike of the dock workers also affected the normal function of the port of Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
Greek tourism bodies have expressed concern for the situation considering the major efforts that have been made in general to attract more cruise liners to Greece.
On Friday, in separate statements, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourist & Travel Agencies (fedHATTA) called for the government to safeguard the cruise industry.
“The state must proceed immediately with all necessary steps to continue the dialogue with the dock workers for the return of ‘labor peace'”, SETE said.
Likewise, fedHATTA called for dialogue, labor peace, normalcy and quality service to the tourists in Greece.
According to the federation, already one international cruise company has warned that it will stop conducting “turnarounds” (passengers disembark the ship and leave and new passengers are checked in and board the vessel) from Piraeus port.
“It is certain that other cruise lines will follow and this will bring obvious consequences for Greek cruise tourism”, fedHATTA stressed.