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Italy's cruise numbers expected to drop in 2017

Venice, previously No. 3 among Mediterranean cruise ports and fourth in 2016, could drop to fifth place in 2017 Venice, previously No. 3 among Mediterranean cruise ports and fourth in 2016, could drop to fifth place in 2017 (Photo: Anne Kalosh)

Cruise traffic in Italy's ports reached 11.1m passengers and 4,980 ship calls in 2016, maintaining the same levels as in 2015. The forecast for 2017, however, indicates a 7.1% drop in passengers (embarking, disembarking and transit) to 10.3m, and a 9.6% reduction in calls to 4,500.

The figures were reported in the seventh edition of 'Speciale Crociere' (Cruise Special), published by Risposte Turismo research, a consulting company in the tourism sector.

'After two years of growth and stability, 2017 will see a figure well below 11 million. This undoubtedly requires a critical look at the situation, and indeed should be taken as a warning for the future,' said Francesco di Cesare, president of Risposte Turismo.

Traffic will fall at more than half of Italy's top 10 ports, and in some cases the drop will be significant. After losing its third place in the Mediterranean's top 10, Venice could drop from fourth to fifth position.

'We are looking at a gradual drop in passengers embarking and disembarking, even more than those in transit, and the demand for cruises from Italian tourists seems unlikely to return to the levels recorded a few years ago,' di Cesare said. 'Attention, investments and coordination are required to ensure that the cruise sector continues to yield impressive results for Italy.'

Compared to 2015, 2016 ended with substantial stability in terms of passenger numbers (about 11m) and with a rise in calls, from 4,824 to 4,980 (up 3.2%). These results, according to Risposte Turismo’s report, are due fewer passengers embarking or disembarking in Italy—a drop below the 4m mark—and an increase in in-transit passengers in transit. Numbers in the Adriatic specifically fell 2.5%, while traffic was up in the rest of Italy.

Civitavecchia maintained its top position in 2016 with about 2.3m passengers and 833 calls, followed by Venice with 1.6m passengers and 529 calls. Naples was third, with 1.3m passengers and 493 calls, while Genoa chalked up just over 1m passengers and 249 calls, followed by Savona with 910,244 passengers and 213 calls.

Livorno was in sixth position with 807,935 passengers and 403 calls, followed by Palermo with 510,078 passengers and 174 calls. La Spezia handled 499,248 passengers and 144 calls, Bari 400,875 passengers and 145 calls, and Cagliari 258,066 passengers and 108 calls.  

The 2016 data on individual ports confirms Venice’s position as Italy’s top homeport with the greatest number of passengers embarking and disembarking: just over 1.4m. Venice was followed by Civitavecchia and Genoa, with about 847,000 and 642,000 passengers respectively.

When it came to transit passengers, Civitavecchia again topped the list (about 1.5m), followed by Naples (1.2m) and Livorno (798,000).

In terms of passengers handled per region, Liguria, Lazio and Veneto led the list, with figures of about 2.5m (down 3.8%), 2.3m (up 2.9%) and 1.6m (up 1.4%), respectively, followed by Campania (1.5m, down 2.5%) and Sicily (just over 1.1m, a 2.6% increase).

As for the number of ports that welcomed cruise ships in 2016, Sicily remained top of the ranking with 10 ports, followed by Liguria (nine) and Campania (seven).

The Risposte Turismo report also previewed the ranking of the top 10 Mediterranean ports in terms of passengers handled in 2016. Italy has five ports in the top 10, with Civitavecchia second (about 2.3m passengers, behind Barcelona, with about 2.7m), Venice fourth (1.6m passengers, behind Palma de Mallorca with about 1.63m), Naples sixth (1.3m passengers), Genoa eighth (just over 1m) and Savona ninth (about 910,000).

2017 data from 46 cruise ports—which in 2016 accounted for almost all cruise traffic (99.8%) and calls (97.4%)—show a negative trend for Italy's cruise traffic, as Risposte Turismo announced last September in La Spezia at the sixth edition of Italian Cruise Day.

New forecasts indicate that by the end of the year, there may be a reduction from four to three in the number of ports handling more than a million passengers: Civitavecchia, (2.2m, down 5.9%), Venice (1.4m, down 11.4%) and Naples (1m, down 23.4%).

Risposte Turismo also analyzed the number of bed-days on cruise ships per area of destination. The analysis showed that in 2017, the Mediterranean could register the lowest percentage of world cruise line deployment in the last 10 years: 15.5%, compared to 18.3% in 2016 and 16.4% in 2007.

Posted 15 March 2017

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Luca Peruzzi

Italy Correspondent

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