CLIA: Global Cruise Industry on its Way to Pre-pandemic Growth
At the 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum in Thessaloniki, CLIA is addressing the major topics, challenges and opportunities that will shape the cruise industry’s agenda in coming years
After three years of reduced operations of cruise travel, 2023 is when the industry is expected to return to its pre-pandemic growth trajectory, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Global Chair Pierfrancesco Vago said on Tuesday.
Giving the keynote speech on the first day of the 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum in Thessaloniki, Vago said that up to 33 million cruise passengers worldwide are expected this year, exceeding 2019 volumes by over 11 percent.
“And when it comes to the East Med, cruise ships from all brands are coming back ahead of the summer season,” he said.
The 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, which brings together industry leaders from all over the world, kicked off on Tuesday at the Makedonia Palace hotel and will run until Wednesday.
According to CLIA, the forum is taking place at a pivotal moment for Greece, whose role in the safe resumption of cruising creates a unique opportunity for the country to optimize its position on the global cruise map.
“Greece is an important cruise hub in the Mediterranean, with great potential for further growth,” said the global chair of CLIA.
CLIA at 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum
Vago is leading a high-level CLIA delegation at the forum, including Marie-Caroline Laurent, Director General, Europe; Sascha Gill, Vice President, Sustainability; Maria Deligianni, National Director – Eastern Mediterranean; and Andy Harmer, Managing Director, UK & Ireland.
The importance of the Mediterranean region in post-pandemic cruising was among the top issues discussed at the opening of the forum.
“With such vibrancy and diversity of cultures, the Mediterranean region is one of the world’s favorite places to visit,” said CLIA’s Marie-Caroline Laurent, adding that the “magnificent region” still offers so many more places to discover – best to be discovered by sea.
“Cruise tourism is a real opportunity for new destinations like remote island and coastline areas, bringing important social and economic benefits to more communities,” Laurent said.
The CLIA team addressed all major topics and key priorities for the industry by participating in panel discussions and organizing special sessions and workshops.
Sustainable cruising is on the top of these priorities, as CLIA members are committed to delivering the vision of net zero cruising by 2050 and are acting now to make this vision a reality – by equipping ships to connect to shoreside electricity, reducing emissions for the benefit of local populations, investing in the development of new sustainable marine fuels and onboard technologies.
Pathways to Net Zero
CLIA organised a session on Tuesday on “Pathways to Net Zero”, moderated by CLIA’s VP for sustainability, Sascha Gill.
The session covered topics ranging from decarbonisation, port infrastructure and safety requirements, to the Poseidon principles, exploring the pathways to achieve net zero and challenges to be overcome.
Increasing awareness about careers in the cruise industry is another priority for CLIA, especially in light of 2023 being the European Year of Skills. CLIA’s Maria Deligianni will be among panellists of ‘YES to SEApping Forum’ on Wednesday, supporting this important initiative to inform young people about the role of shipping and sea tourism in the blue economy and promoting the opportunity for Greece to build the skills of the next generation of seafarers.
CLIA, in association with the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourist & Travel Agencies (FedHATTA) will also host a workshop on Wednesday where Andy Harmer, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, CLIA and other industry experts will discuss how travel agents can benefit from increased demand for cruise holidays.
CLIA: Collaboration is key to highlight new cruise destinations
In addition, the opportunity for new destinations to enrich the cruise lines’ itineraries as well as the increasing importance of lesser-known destinations are also on the agenda.
CLIA executives during the forum will highlight the importance of collaboration between cruise lines, governments and other stakeholders in ensuring the industry’s continued success.
As underlined by the association, cruise lines have a track record of working with destinations to introduce tourism management solutions that maintain a great visitor experience.
“Cruise tourism is managed tourism, which means that effective planning can be made in advance. Investment in new port destinations and facilities could play a pivotal role in unlocking future growth potential, while reducing pressure on ‘marquee’ destinations.”
CLIA this year expects passenger volumes of 27-33 million ocean-going guests globally in 2023 and a buoyed consumer sentiment with intention to cruise higher than before the pandemic.
Held by Posidonia Exhibitions S.A., the 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum is sponsored by the Thessaloniki Port Authority SA, the Piraeus Port Authority SA, Celestyal Cruises, Kyvernitis Travel and the Thessaloniki Tourism Organisation.
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) is a media sponsor for the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum.