ATHENS – While expecting a record overall number of visitors in 2018, they won’t be coming on passenger cruise ships where the numbers could fall as much as 40 percent between this year and next.
That was the estimate from the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) – which put it at 20 percent for 2017 – while Panayiotis Kampouroglou, Chief Executive Officer at ICTS Hellas and Executive Vice President of ICTS Europe, involved in air and maritime transport security, sees another 20 percent drop next year.
That’s because cruise ships typically dock in Greece on their way to Turkey but political uncertainty there as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seeks near-dictatorial powers, along with violence and terrorism is keeping people away even though Istanbul is one of the world’s most visited cities.
But Kampouroglou said there is growing interest in cruise tourism in western Greece and the Ionian sea which leads ships to Albania and Balkan countries known for exquisite scenery and seaports.
SETE’s cruise tourism representative and head of Navigator – which represents Royal Caribbean – Andreas Stylianopoulos agreed with these estimates as he also expects visitors to decline next year too, Kathimerini said. He said that could be offset by growing demand from the US.
After participating at SeaTrade, the world’s biggest cruise tourism fair held in Florida last month, Stylianopoulos said Greece has to look at 2019-20 for a recovery in the sector and noted that with bigger liners being built that the country needs to improve its infrastructure at Piraeus and ports.