CLIA: Cruise Tourism is an Opportunity for Greek Travel Agents
Travel agents in Greece should view cruise tourism as an opportunity to increase or diversify their offer, according to Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) Andy Harmer, Managing Director, UK & Ireland.
Speaking during a workshop in Thessaloniki on how travel agents can benefit from increased demand for cruise holidays, Harmer highlighted that “there has never been a better time to sell cruise holidays” than now.
“There is such a diverse range of cruise itineraries, ships, and types of cruise holidays available, that it is easy to match customers with the right cruise,” Harmer told GTP Headlines on the sidelines of the workshop that was held during this year’s Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum.
“If travel agents are interested in the opportunities, I would encourage them to make time to engage with the learning opportunities provided by CLIA and the cruise lines,” he said, adding that there are many resources available for agents to make use of and which will help agents to talk to their customers about the huge variety of cruise holidays available.
Harmer joined CLIA in 2006 after many years in the travel industry, including working as a travel agent. At the time, he re-launched CLIA’s travel agent program in the UK.
Responsible for CLIA’s travel agent program in UK, Ireland and in Europe, Harmer says the program is designed to help agents be informed and educated on the vast array of cruise options available.
“Most cruise holidays are booked through travel agents, making cruise a commercially important offer for agents looking to increase their overall level of business… Our recommendation is that travel agencies benefit from a clear understanding of the huge choice and diversity of cruise holidays on offer,” he said.
Given the scale of choice on offer, CLIA supports travel agents by providing training, events, and resources.
“Whilst staying informed is important, travel agents are selling fantastic holidays, and there are many ways that these holidays can be showcased to inspire travel agents and their customers… Our busy events program helps to inspire agents in the cruise offer – after all, cruise holidays are the best way to see the world,” Harmer highlights.
How CLIA supports its travel agent members
CLIA provides a range of services for travel agents, complementing the activities of the cruise lines. These activities fall into the following categories:
– Trade-focused events: CLIA holds events for travel agents to inspire through networking and ship inspection visits.
– Accredited learning: CLIA provides training materials that enable travel agents to work their way through modules and increase their knowledge. Some 100 learning modules are offered on CLIA’s website.
– Unique resources: CLIA provides a series of materials including online video guides, destination factsheets and much more.
Thessaloniki could open a whole new destination market
Commenting on the fact that the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum 2023 took place for the first time in Thessaloniki, the second largest city of Greece, Harmer said CLIA highly encourages the opening of new destinations.
“Thessaloniki has much to offer with its unique culture and the history of Alexander the Great in the region,” adding that the opening of Thessaloniki as a cruise hub could open a whole new destination market: northern Greece.
“I was delighted to speak to the travel agents of northern Greece and highlight our hope for the opening of a new source market from the Balkans area… We know that people from neighbouring countries drive to Thessaloniki for holidays and may choose to embark on a cruise ship from there,” Harmer said.
Greece is an important cruise hub in the Med
Moreover, highlighting that Greece is an important cruise hub in the Mediterranean, Harmer said the country could go further in cruise tourism.
“There is great potential for growth not only in Greece, but across the East Mediterranean, and the Adriatic, with many new destinations to explore and CLIA is focusing on helping to unlock this potential,” he said.
It is reminded that at the 2023 Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, CLIA Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago revealed an action plan for the country’s sustainable growth as a cruise hub, including the promotion of new destinations in cruise source markets.
Harmer added that apart from Greece, CLIA is expanding its activities across the region, including Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt as well as the countries of the Adriatic.
“We are already seeing increased cruise ship calls in the country and wider region. Cruise lines have invested and continue to invest significantly in Greece and in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said, adding that the available numbers are reflecting the investment of cruise lines.
Last year in Greece more than 4,780 cruise ship calls doubling the number of calls in 2021, while in 2022 the cruise ship calls were 20 percent up compared to 2019.
Held by Posidonia Exhibitions S.A. in late April, the 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum welcomed over 40 exhibitors and 60 high-profile speakers who discussed the challenges the industry is currently facing.
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) is a media sponsor for the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum 2023.