Op-Ed: ‘Covid-19 Gave the Cruise Industry the Opportunity to Foster Significant Improvements’ – Giorgos Koumpenas
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) has provided a podium for Greece’s key tourism figures to share their vision for the day after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the cruise industry suffered great losses, decelerating its impressive growth of previous years.
A significant number of cruise vessels was decommissioned, and a few small companies went out of business. Shore side employees and crew members were left without income for over a year and had to seek employment in other industries.
At the same time, there is no doubt that the adversities caused by this health crisis, provided the cruise industry with the opportunity to foster significant improvements.
Enhanced hygiene protocols and advanced technologies were put in use, ensuring the wellbeing of passengers and crew. Cruise lines took advantage of the down time to upgrade their fleets and their onboard experience.
A significant change that accelerated during the pandemic was the digitalization and the automation of many processes such as embarkation, screening etc.
Regarding Greece, as a result of the pandemic’s handling, we foresee a significant increase in the number of vessels homeporting in Greek ports, initially with a reduced number of passengers. However, an increase is expected by the end of Summer 2021.
The reshuffling of cruise activity due to Covid-19, together with the high demand for travel to Greece, present an opportunity for growth of cruising in our area.
As an industry we will gain the confidence of potential passengers, local communities and stakeholders for our business to continue to expand at the same pre-Covid-19 rate.
Greek cruising should leverage this momentum and take all the necessary actions to ensure the smooth operation of the industry at the initial phase of restart. As a country we need to prove that we are a reliable partner to cruise lines and offer a friendly environment for sea tourism’s development.
However, the lack of proper infrastructure is an important matter that should be addressed as part of a national strategic plan for the industry’s sustainable development.
The issues of re-building local know-how and expertise should also be taken under consideration together with the support of other local economic activities related to cruising.”
* This Op-Ed originally appeared in the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) annual printed edition for 2021. Press here for more information.