Greece accounts for 10% of Mediterranean region’s cruise port calls
During a panel discussion of cruise experts it was underlined that Greece accounts for 10 percent of the Mediterranean region’s port calls, a significant number globally considering that the region is second only to the Caribbean in terms of fleet deployment.
According to MedCruise President Airam Diaz Pastor, Greece and the East Med region in general set to benefit from a 22.2 percent increase in passenger numbers and 19.8 percent growth in port calls projected for the entire Mediterranean in 2019. MedCruise is the association of Mediterranean and adjoining seas cruise ports.
“The region is seeing a golden age in terms of growth and the planned deployment of some 25 new luxury ships that are coming to the market soon will provide a fresh impetus giving smaller ports the opportunity to offer something different,” he said.
MSC, the biggest cruise line in the Mediterranean Sea with 15.07 percent of the market is also bullish on the prospects of East Med as a cruise destination where it plans to increase capacity by 25 percent.
“We really like this region with its natural beauty its diverse cultural and rich historical attractions, yet we still remain conscious of certain geopolitical challenges that will keep us away from the Turkish market at least for now,” said Charles Darr, Executive Vice President, Maritime Policy and Government Affairs, MSC Group.
Darr stressed that the lack of political stability in the wider region, with its geopolitical hotspots of Northern Africa and elsewhere, take some convincing to operate there.
“We are still not convinced that it would be responsible for us to take our passengers there. You have to win the hearts and minds of tourists whose confidence is broken due to events in the region,” he said.
Other topics tabled during the forum include the prospects of cruising in the East Med; partnerships between ships, ports and destinations for sustainable tourism; the region’s potential to offer year-round cruise products; and the overall impact from the dramatic growth of mainstream cruise ship sizes.
The Forum is being attended by 200 delegates including Senior Executives from MSC Cruises, Carnival Group, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Holland America Group, Silversea Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Fred Olsen Cruise Line and Celestyal Cruises and representatives of regional ports and destinations.
The 5th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum will run until May 29 at the Domotel Kastri Conference Centre in Athens, organized under the auspices of the ministries of Tourism and Maritime Affairs & Insular Policy.