The Minister of Development Competitiveness and Shipping, heads of international cruise sector bodies, senior officials from Greece’s port authorities and representatives from a wide spectrum of the cruising industry agreed today that state protectionism is a stumbling block that discourages the potential growth of the country’s sea tourism.
They were addressing an audience of 200 cruise industry professionals who attended the 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum held today, Wednesday 6th June, at the sidelines of Posidonia 2012, the world’s biggest shipping trade event.
According to the Minister of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, Mr Ioannis Stournaras, Greece attracts 4.3 million cruise line passengers every year who spend some Euro 430 million at greek destinations. Nearly 85 per cent of that spending benefits solely the port of Piraeus but in a post-cabotage era some 50 Greek ports have the potential to attract cruise ships and reap significant advantages for local businesses.
Manfredi Lefebvre D’Ovidio, Chairman of the European Cruise Council said that currently Greece ranks third in Europe behind Italy and Spain with 17 per cent of the total European cruise market.
The forum discussed the challenges that prohibit further growth of the cruise sector in Greece and debated a number of proposed solutions and recommendations that could fuel progress. The stringent and antiquated legislative framework, lack of modern and adequate infrastructure, issues with berth allocations, high and unstructured fees and charges and the lack of a common cruise port policy were high in the list of problems facing Greece’s cruise industry.
In response to these challenges, George Anomeritis, President of Greek Ports Association, said that the country is amidst a five-year investment programme worth Euro 420 million designed to revamp existing port infrastructure and has established a subsidiary organization of the Port of Piraeus to oversee development of regional ports and align the disparate local policies as part of a coordination effort that would eventually lead to a country-wide cruise port policy.
The 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum was opened by Theodoros Vokos on behalf of the organizers. He said: “In the year which elapsed between the inaugural event and this year’s forum, we have seen some progress in the form of the partial lifting of cabotage and the good intentions of the government and the bodies and associations who are actively involved in the Greek cruise sector. However we still have a long way to go and this forum will serve as an industry bellwether in order to assess progress on an annual basis, predict trends and recommend solutions that will hopefully manage to move the needle of the compass to the true north permanently”.
Other speakers at the forum included: Andreas Andreadis, President, Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), George Gratsos, President, Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, Stavros Hatzakos, President, MedCruise, Theodore Kontes, President, Union of Cruise Ship-owners and Associated Members, George Telonis, President, HATTA , Apostolos Ventouris, President, Association of Passenger Shipping Companies, Athanasios Pallis, General Secretary of Ports & Port Policy, Ministry of Development, Competitiveness & Shipping, Ioannis Bras - President and Managing Director, Heraklion Port Authority, David Gerasklis - Former Vice President Harbour Management Organisation of KOS, Yiorgos Kastellanos - Executive Director, Hellenic Ports Association, George Koumpenas, Senior General Manager, Fleet Operations, Louis Cruises, Neil Palomba, COO of MSC and Chairman of the ECC Ports Sub-Committee, Andreas Stylianopoulos, President of Navigator Travel, VP of Cruise Sector SEEN, board member of SETE, John Tercek, Vice President Commercial and New Business Development, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Cruise update Moderators were:
Professor John Tzoannos, Special Advisers FIPRA international, former Secretary General of Ministry of Mercantile Marine and Chrissie Palassis, Partner, CTM Hellas.
Posidonia 2012 is sponsored by the Greek Ministry of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, the Municipality of Piraeus, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, the Union of Greek Shipowners, the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee, the Hellenic Shortsea Shipowners’ Association and the Association of Greek Passenger Shipping Companies.