The cruise industry in the East Mediterranean is bracing for a rebound in 2019, trying to catch up and set to experience its best year, according to projections presented during the 5th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum in Athens last week.
Global cruiseship tourism is due to growing to estimated 30 million passengers in 2019, 6% increase over 2018's 28,2 million, said the secretary-general of the European branch of CLIA Europe, Tom Boardley. He added the industry's momentum was expected to take it to 40 million cruisers by late-2020s.
Eastern Mediterranean (generally Greece) have seen a slump over the last years due to political concerns in the broader region. Since the concerns appear to have eased in 2019, Greece expects a year-on-year increase of 7.5%in cruise tourism, according to the executive director of forum organizer Posidonia Exhibitions, Theodore Vokos.
Santorini Island received 640,000 cruisers in 2017 and expects 20% increase in the next couple of years, according to CLIA Europe public affairs representative Maria Deligianni.
Cyprus has suffered from the cruise tourism slump in the region, with the island’s Deputy Tourism Minister Savvas Perdios reporting an 85% decline from 2010 to 2018. However, this year they are expecting a 15-20% increase, but from a low starting point.
The broader East Med region is due to witness 22.2% annual growth in cruisers and a 19.8% increase in port calls, mainly due to restored stability in countries like Turkey, according to Airam Diaz Pastor, president of MedCruise. In the context of the forum, his association of Mediterranean cruise ports signed a memorandum of understanding with Hellenic Ports Association.