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Thursday, 07 June 2012

European Cruise Council urges Greece to lift obstacles

Europe’s Cruise Council, (ECC),  today urged future administrators of Greece to remove a series of obstacles which it said were  hampering the country’s potential for private investment in cruise infrastructure and the rate of growth in the cruise sector.

The ECC called on election candidates to lift restrictions on cabotage to allow non-EU flagged ships to use Greek ports as turnaround ports.

It also called for adoption of a mechanism to ensure cruise operators are consulted prior to implementation of port tariff hikes.

Speaking at the Posidonia Exhibition in Athens, Neil Palomba, Chief Operating Officer at MSC Cruises and Chairman of ECC’s port sub-committee complained of 192% hike in dock dues in 2012.

“Dock dues for a vessel of 140,000 tons are €19,600 compared to €6,720 just 1 year ago, corresponding to an increase of 192%,” Mr Palomba said.

Mr Palomba also complained of passenger port due increases.

He called for the establishment of a common ports policy that would ensure stability across the ports sector.

The ECC said cabotage policy and port tariff increases were hampering investor confidence and threatening the growth of Greece’s tourism market.

The ECC general secretary, Tim Marking said there was a potential for cruise operator investment in Greek port infrastructrure, but that any potentail investment would depend on the outcome of the Greek general election on June 17th.

The current interim Greek administration is planning a privatisation programme of ports and it wants to freeze port tariffs rates over the next three years but the duration of current policies are subject to the measures adopted by the future administrators of the country.

Although a cabotage restrictions were partially lifted last year, non- EU flagged ships are prohibited from using Greek ports as home ports of call.

The cruise tourism business is key growth area of Greece’s stricken economy.

According to the interim Minister of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, Mr Ioannis Stournaras, Greece attracts 4.3 million cruise line passengers every year who spend some €430m at Greek destinations.

Manfredi Lefebvre D’Ovidio, Chairman of the European Cruise Council said that currently Greece ranks third in Europe behind Italy and Spain with 17% share of the total European cruise market.

Nearly 85 % of that spending benefits solely the port of Piraeus but if cabotage restrictions are fully lifted some 50 Greek ports have the full potential to attract all cruise ships.

Currently only two ports in Rhodes and Crete are used as turnaround ports.


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