Greece prepares to welcome some 5,000 cruise ships in 2022, a 25 percent increase compared to pre-Covid 2019, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced on Wednesday from Genoa, Italy, where he is attending the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) European Summit 2022.
In an interview to SKAI television from Genoa, Kikilias said the goal was “to have cruise ship arrivals 12 months of the year, so we are negotiating here in Genoa with the market’s ‘big players’ to have cruise tourism in January and February,” he said.
Kikilias underlined that much like other tourism products, cruise travel can significantly strengthen all sectors of the Greek economy.
“In 2022, we will have 5,000 cruise ship approaches to the Greek islands and ports” supporting hotels, accommodation and Airbnbs, restaurants, bars and cafes, trade and infrastructure, with the primary concern being to support of the average Greek family and the Greek family business, he said.
The minister’s announcement comes on the back of the Seatrade Cruise Global 2022 industry event held in Miami earlier this year, where Hellenic Ports Association (ELIME) Executive Director Dimitris Iatridis said cruise ship arrivals to Greek ports in 2022 are expected to rise by 25 percent.
The port of Piraeus alone is set to welcome 750 cruise ships this year, including arrivals by newcomers Virgin Cruises and the ultraluxury Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Of that, 66 percent will be homeporting out of Piraeus, Greece’s largest port.
Kikilias said the growing cruise dynamic which started earlier this year in March is expected to contribute to the extension of the tourist season, a key ministry priority.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Posidonia 2022 shipping exhibition in Athens, Maria Deligianni, CLIA’s National Director Eastern Mediterranean, said data confirms the upgrade of Greece’s role as a leading cruise destination. According to CLIA figures for this year, of the 279 CLIA member company cruise ships worldwide, 87 will operate in Greece in 2022.