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Tourism, Shipping Ministers Lay Out Cruise Sector Plans

International cruise groups are actively demonstrating their trust in Greece, including Greek destinations on their itineraries despite the ongoing political instability in the region, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura told a parliamentary session on marine tourism and cruise travel this week.

Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura

Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura

Together with Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis, Kountoura presented the parliamentary committee with results of the ongoing national tourism strategy, which she said has paid off in numbers sending arrivals for 2015-2016 to record highs.

Indicatively, Minister Kountoura said that cruise sector insiders were expecting a 30-40 percent decline in the number of ships visiting Greece this year due to the turmoil in the region which however was effectively dealt with through ministry collaboration with cruise groups.

TUI Group: Cruise travel to Greece up 20%

Kountoura said agreements breeding trust among partners in the industry have paved the way for popular operators such as TUI Group to boost their presence in Greece, promoting it as a safe destination. TUI Group announced a 20 percent increase in cruise travel to Greece for 2017.

“Sea tourism is a strategic priority,” said Kountoura, adding that coordination between the tourism and shipping ministries was of vital importance.

Bill for revamp of Greek ports

On his part, Kouroublis said his ministry was moving ahead with the design of a bill that will resolve issues of port and marina infrastructure, inviting private initiative to participate in the projects.

He said the aim was to design and equip Greek ports in order to be able to cater to larger vessels and added that problems in the cruise sector are mostly a result of developments in the wider region around Greece.

Additionally, like his counterpart at the tourism ministry, Kouroublis said the government was putting a high priority on the development of the cruise sector and in this direction has already set up the Cruise Affairs Coordinating Committee.

The minister was also quick to underline that an international body monitoring security levels across international ports said Greek ports were enforcing the best conditions. In this direction, Kouroublis added the ministry has slated 30 million euros for a new system that will further enhance port oversight and security.

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