In view of forecasts for a 30 percent drop in cruise tourism to Greece in 2017, South Aegean Governor George Hatzimarkos recently met with Cosco management at the Piraeus Port Authority, to discuss ways to address the issue.
Representing 13 South Aegean islands, including Andros, Karpathos, Kos, Mykonos, Paros and Santorini, Hatzimarkos stressed the need to re-design the institutional framework governing the operation of island ports, which he said is outdated and dysfunctional.
Speaking at a press conference, Hatzimarkos cited external causes such as political instability and violence in the South Eastern Mediterranean for the declining figures as well as domestic shortcomings including lagging infrastructure and a deficient operational framework.
Hatzimarkos said that little could be done to “save” the 2017 season since cruise companies have already drawn up their itineraries, but that if stakeholders work together on a “realistic” and viable plan, 2018 can prove to be a much better year in terms of incoming cruise traffic.
Hatzimarkos and Cosco management discussed ways to boost cruise travel to Greece via promotional activities, novel tourism products, and reaching out to the constantly growing Chinese market.