In a ‘Balcony Chat’ that opened the conference this morning, CLIA Europe chairman Kyriakos Anastassiadis and CLIA Germany chairman Karl J. Pojer agreed on the industry's vitality but called for better communication.
Anastassiadis said 2017 has been a record year with very good results for all cruise tourism stakeholders. At the same time he suggested the industry should address concerns about cruise tourism and ballooning passenger volumes increasingly voiced by local communities and NGOs.
Anastassiadis suggested three principles should characterise the industry’s activities and achievements: Providing a safe and secure environment for its passengers, environmental responsibility and sustainable tourism development that adds value to the ports of call.
Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, characterised 2017 as a good year for Europe’s cruise industry with growing volumes and absent price wars though he, too, stressed sustainability issues need to be taken very seriously. Pojer said the industry’s innovation in regard to sustainability is very high and barely matched by other tourism sectors—a competitive advantage that merits much more proactive communication.
With regard to the Mediterranean, Anastassiadis voiced concern over the currently ‘shrinking map' of destinations due to the political instability in northern Africa and other factors. At the same time he expressed the hope that those destinations may return to the map in the not too distant future.
Irrespective of this issue, the CLIA Europe chairman said Europe should, after all, manage to become the No. 1 cruise region in the world ahead of the Caribbean, given its great variety of destinations, gastronomic experiences and other plusses.
Anastassiadis also identified the real competitors for cruising not as other lines but rather other holiday options. Further cruise growth, he said, is the way forward.