Cruise tourism is a government agenda priority, Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said this week addressing a parliamentary plenary session, together with Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis.
In response to a relevant parliamentary question, Kountoura noted that for the first time the government has taken active steps in promoting marine and cruise tourism, implementing a far-reaching strategy that has thus far created the new Cruise Affairs Coordinating Committee and secured direct flights from the US and China which will contribute to the development of cruise travel from Greece.
The minister underlined that the government’s strategy has worked towards the diversification of cruise travel products in collaboration with major foreign tour operators, worked towards establishing the port of Piraeus as a home port demonstrated by a 113 percent increase in passenger arrivals to Athens for cruise travel, or 20,000 vacationers in the January-April 2017 period.
Kountoura added that two more direct flights to China are set to start in fall. She also underlined that the tourism ministry has fostered ties of trust with sector players including cruise groups and travel operators, and went on to say that since 2014, the number of cruise visitors has gone from 2.2 million to 3.3 million in 2016. Cruise passenger arrivals, meanwhile, grew by 5 percent in 2016 and travelers setting out from Piraeus port almost doubled from 66,268 in 2015 to 123,549 in 2016.
Kountoura concluded that the ministry has moved ahead with synergies in efforts to boost cruise travel from Greece as a hub, citing the most recent deal with TUI Group, which predicts a 20 percent rise in cruise travel this year.