THESSALONIKI – The 2023 Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum will be held in Thessaloniki next Spring, as the organisers of Greece’s premier cruising and yachting conference have decided to move the biennial event away from Athens for the first time since its inception 11 years ago.
The 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum (PSTF) will take place at Thessaloniki’s Makedonia Palace Hotel, on 25-26 April, as Greece’s second biggest port is emerging as a major homeporting hub in the eastern Mediterranean and Balkan regions, because of significant investments and sea and airport infrastructure upgrades.
According to official statistics by the Hellenic Ports Association (ELIME), the port of Thessaloniki is expected to finish 2022 with a total of 60 cruise ship arrivals compared to just six calls in 2019, a tenfold increase. A total of 30 of those are attributed to homeporting, according to the Greek Ministry of Tourism.
Vassilis Kikilias, Minister of Tourism, said: “In September 2021, a few days after I assumed the Ministry of Tourism, the first trip I made was here, to Thessaloniki.
At that time, I placed a bet on Cruise. With a lot of hard and coordinated work by all stakeholders, the city’s port was upgraded and increased cruise ship calls tenfold compared to 2019. In fact, half of them involve homeporting activity, which adds more value.
This reflects an upgrade of the city’s tourism product and creates a boost to the local economy. As a crowning achievement of this effort, the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum 2023 will be held in Thessaloniki, a destination which deserves and should enjoy a high-ranking position in sea tourism.”
Athanasios Liagkos, Executive Chairman of the BoD & Managing Director of ThPA S.A., said: “At ThPA S.A., we aspire to act as a gateway to growth, delivering added value to the city, the economy and society. Therefore, we look forward to hosting the 2023 PSTF and welcome to our city some of the most influential decision makers of the international cruising and sea tourism sector.”
“During their stay here, they will have a first-hand experience of Thessaloniki’s exciting, highly vibrant and constantly evolving touristic product, which comprises of unfettered air, rail and road accessibility from all parts of Greece and Europe, the rapidly improving state-of-the-art transportation infrastructure, and the strategic location of a city known as a crossroads of culture and culinary excellence steeped in Byzantine history.”
The city is home to the main gateway port to the Balkans and Southeast Europe, which is strategically located close to the major Trans-European motorway and railway networks. ThPA S.A. is implementing a multi-million investment plan aiming to contribute to turning Thessaloniki into a major transportation, commerce, tourism and logistics hub for Southeastern Europe. Ongoing investments include the project for the expansion of Pier 6, which will provide the ability to directly serve main liner container vessels and the upgrading of the existing cruise terminal.
“Our decision to relocate the 7th edition of PSTF to Thessaloniki was an easy one to make as the city is rapidly evolving into a North Aegean seasonal hub with ambitions to become an important regional homeport for an extended season for all cruise brands that decide to homeport in Greece,” said Theodore Vokos, Managing Director of Posidonia Exhibitions S.A. and recently elected President of the newly launched Greek Exhibition Industry Association (SOKEE).
“The decision is in line with the realisation that all stakeholders in the region must work closely with the cruise lines to create more itinerary options that will help dilute call density, over-tourism and high season crowding in marquee ports. Amongst others, one of the goals of the 7th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum will be to highlight new destinations, both in Greece and the region, as the cruise industry needs more options going forward.”
The 2023 PSTF is sponsored by ThPA S.A., as a Diamond Sponsor, is organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Insular Policy and the Ministry of Tourism and is supported by the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports and the Union of Cruise Ship Owners & Associated Members.