But this is likely to grow once recent legislation changes become fully effective and as soon as planned infrastructure improvements are implemented, according to the Greek Minister of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean, Konstantinos Moussouroulis, who was speaking at the opening session of the two-day event during a panel debate about the growth prospects of the international cruising industry and its impact on the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions.
“Greece has many competitive advantages as a tourism destination and the Greek government continues to evolve the legislation framework pertaining to sea tourism activities including the law for the lifting of cabotage,” said the Minister.
Representatives of the world’s two biggest cruise lines agreed that Greece is extremely popular as a destination for their companies but the country still needs to do more in order to realize it full potential.
“Last year, Carnival’s nine cruise line brands brought to Greece a total of 2.8 million international tourists mainly to Corfu, Katakolo, Pireaus, Santorini and Myconos, but we know that this number could be a lot higher,” said Giora Israel, Senior Vice President Port and Destination Development of Carnival Corporation, the world’s biggest cruise company.”
He also expressed his confidence that the best days of cruising in Greece are just in front of us as the effects of the lifting of cabotage will become evident with the deployment of non EU flag vessels for home porting in Greek destinations.
John Fox Vice President Government Relations US and Europe, Royal Caribbean Cruises, which brings more passengers to Greece than any other cruise operator, also agreed that the removal of cabotage was a step to the right direction and added that in order to fully reap the rewards of cruising, Greece has to also address a few more issues and market itself as part of a regionwide ecosystem as opposed to following a more fragmented marketing strategy.
He added: “The entire East Mediterranean and Black Sea region is the most mystical and magical in the world but Greece in particular is the only cruise hub in Europe which can offer a variety of packages and itineraries with short distance between ports which makes it good for business due to lower fuel costs.
The current volatility of fuel costs is in fact a key challenge facing the cruise industry according to Rob Ashdown, Secretary General of (Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Europe, who also participated in the discussion. “Greece is currently the third most popular European cruising destination and its ranking can further improve if it can introduce a birthing policy designed to reduce congestion and keep port fees and charges aligned with the competition,” said Ashdown. The 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum thanks the following sponsors for their support: Gold Sponsors Greek National Tourism Organisation & Samsung Electronics Hellas, Silver Sponsor Piraeus Port Authority and Sponsors RINA, Louis Cruises, Dubai Maritime City Authority and MVS Associates.
The 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum is organised under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Tourism, the Greek Ministry of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean, CLIA - Europe, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), the Association of Passenger Shipping Companies, the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports (MEDCRUISE), the Hellenic Ports' Association (ELIME), the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners' Association, the Greek Marinas' Association, the Union of Greek Cruise Ship Owners & Associated Members, the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies (HATTA) and the Hellenic Yacht Brokers' Association.