Thessaloniki tourism professionals as well as the local economy stand to gain if the northern city port can attract homeporting activity, said Hellenic Chamber of Shipping President George Pateras speaking this week at the 7th Εxport Summit organized by the Greek Exporters Association (SEVE).
“We all need to make a great effort to bring cruise travel back to Thessaloniki, a city which has many strengths, including Vergina, Mt Olympus, Athos, the Old Synagogue and the museum,” said Pateras adding that though the port cannot yet handle large cruise ships (4,000+ passengers), “it is easier to begin with smaller ships by tapping into a niche market”.
Indicatively, experts speaking last month at the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum said they expect this year to see the largest number of small cruise ships with a capacity of under 500 passengers cruising the Eastern Mediterranean.
The latest trend involves cruising on small luxury or expedition vessels, a boon for smaller island or mainland ports that do not have the infrastructure to handle larger boats.
Homeporting, Pateras stressed, can contribute significantly to revenues for the city, boosting hotel capacities, restaurant and cafe services, and shop sales.
A single cruise ship stopover generates an estimated 80 dollars per passenger, while homeporting produces approximately 170 dollars per passenger, Pateras said.
The chamber chief pledged the support of the shipping chamber in this direction, adding that it will cooperate with port, Central Macedonia Region, and municipal authorities as well as with exporters, “in order to achieve the goal”.
He added that Thessaloniki port could also benefit from expanding its freight segment, which should involve attracting more freight and transit activity.