ATHENS – It’s not just people pouring into Greece from around the world as tourism is spiking despite what remains of the COVID-19 pandemic: it’s also cruise ships lining up to berth.
With the Chinese management company COSCO operating the port of Piraeus and turning it from a money-loser into one of the European Union’s busiest – despite opposition from local businesses benefiting from tourism – cruise ship operators want to get their passengers there this spring and summer.
Almost a third of the world’s cruise liners will be operating this year, said officials from the Cruise Lines International Association, who were at the Posidonia 2022 shipping industry extravaganza, said Kathimerini.
CLIA noted in a statement that out of the 279 cruise ships of its member companies worldwide, 87 will operate in Greece this year, of which 47 will homeport in the country, one of the world’s most population destinations fir 2022.
That trend started even during the height of the pandemic, when people were trying to get over their fear of being on ships that were seen as breeding grounds for the deadly Coronavirus.
“Twenty Twenty Two is the year we return to pre-pandemic levels in terms of the number of cruise ships in operation, while in 2023 we expect to exceed 2019 passenger numbers,” Maria Deligianni, CLIA’s National Director in the Eastern Mediterranean told the paper.
“Especially for Greece, we expect a significant increase in cruise ship calls from this year. A total of 25 different cruise companies will visit the country this year, more than ever before,” she said.
Marie-Caroline Laurent, CLIA’s Director-General in Europe was at Posidonia and met with shipping industry leaders, especially to talk about reaching a goal of zero carbon emissions.
“We were very happy to hear Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Maritime Affairs Minister Ioannis Plakiotakis supporting the sector’s transition to a new era of zero carbon emissions, but also highlighting the need for development and supply of alternative marine fuels as well as the development of adequate infrastructure, which are critical to our vision of net zero carbon cruising by 2050,” Laurent said of the plan.
“Of course, CLIA’s sustainability goals are broader than net-zero carbon emissions. Cruising is an integral part of sustainable tourism, especially in Greece, which is a top cruise destination, and we are committed to supporting further sustainable development of the sector. To achieve that we have teamed up with local and port authorities to assess the sustainability status of the municipalities of Corfu and Iraklio and to map out a plan for a future of sustainable tourism. And we extend this effort to other destinations in Greece, as it grows as a leading cruise destination,” she added, the report said.