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Cruise Travel to Greece Recovering Slowly Amid Challenges

Cruise travel to Greece is picking up pace albeit slowly after a major drop last year with the geopolitical situation in Turkey, Egypt and Israel, as well as the migrant crisis continuing to impact the industry into 2018, according to Theodore Kontes, president of the Union of Cruise Ship Owners & Associated Members (EEKFN)

“Despite it being too early to accurately predict outcomes for 2018, data collected thus far from markets which plan ahead is indicating little change compared to 2017,” Kontes said, adding however that he expects a marginal increase of 1.5-2 percent in ship arrivals and a 3.5-4 percent rise in the number of passenger arrivals for 2018.

The findings, Kontes says, are based on cruise company requests. EEKFN’s president is reserved however adding that international events and factors impacting marine tourism continue to affect the sector’s performance.

Indicatively, cruise travel to Greece dropped drastically in 2017 compared to a year before, down by 11 percent in terms of cruise passenger arrivals and by 20.5 percent with regard to cruise ship approaches. Greek ports meanwhile welcomed 3,415 cruise ships last year, as opposed to 4,307 in 2016 and 4,625,363 passengers, against 5,204,231.

Kontes went on to add that for Greece to be able to gain from the development of the industry, which is growing globally, decision-makers must proceed with the implementation of carefully thought-out and merit-based port and tourism policies; move ahead with the viable planning and construction of relevant infrastructure at ports, airports, road networks; improve services offered for cruise liners as well as for passengers at select destinations and the promote of local products; eliminate bureaucracy in order to attract investment and establish the country as an attractive maritime tourism destination; simplify customs procedures and explore the possibility of intra-EU cruise travel on competitive terms.

Kontes concluded that though a National Coordination Committee for Cruising Affairs has been established, it has failed due to “over-staffing and state mentality” to address the challenges and resolve urgent issues.

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