Demand for coastal shipping transport services is picking up pace thanks in large part to indications of an extended tourism season, said Greek Shipowners Association for Passenger Ships (SEEN) President Michalis Sakellis during a shipping conference held on the island of Syros on Monday.
Addressing the event, tiled “Coastal Shipping: Linking the South Aegean Islands”, Sakellis expressed his satisfaction with the extension of the tourism season, noting that transport activity grew by 9.5 percent in 2017, and further forecast at rising by 3-5 percent in 2018.
Sakellis said new ships have been introduced to handle additional routes with growth driven by demand in the Cyclades. He added that a slight increase had been posted in the Dodecanese and Crete, but that the North Aegean island region had marked a 30 percent decline.
“We are still down by 1.5 million passengers compared to 2009,” said Sakellis, noting that the largest part of the increase in tourism flows to Greece was handled by air travel. SEEN chief added that domestic tourism had for the first time over the crisis years remained steady.
Indicatively, according to Sakellis:
- coastal shipping (directly or indirectly) contributed 12.9 billion euros, or 7.3 percent, to the country’s GDP, boosting employment by 350,000 and accounting for 50 percent of all jobs on the islands
– with one of the strongest fleets in Europe, Greece’s coastal shipping sector served some 17,500,000 passengers in 2017, expected to exceed 18 million in 2018
- the coastal shipping activities of SEEN members account for 17.5 percent of total European traffic
- 65-70 percent of all inbound tourism is headed for the Greek islands, including day trips made by Athens city break travelers
- 65 percent of all coastal shipping activity, or 11 million passengers, is related to tourism. According to SEEN figures, some 2 million foreigners and nearly 4 million Greek travelers visit the islands via ferry transportation
- of Greece’s 95 islands with marine transportation, 69 are served by coastal shipping
- More than 85 percent of all freight activity, including almost all of the supply of food provisions, is handled by coastal shipping.
Reiterating his stance that coastal shipping is a lifeline for the majority of Greece’s island communities, playing a leading role in both the transport of people and goods to remote regions, Sakellis concluded that an upward trend in fuel prices will inevitably lead to hikes in ferry fares.