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ESPO to develop code of good practice for European cruise and ferry ports

ESPO represents port authorities, port associations and port administrations in the EU and Norway
In response to the growing number of cruise passengers in Europe, the increasing number of ports involved in the cruise business and new challenges ferry ports might be facing, the European Sea Ports Organisation is developing a code of practice for cruise and ferry ports.

In introducing the code, ESPO hopes to 'strengthen the voice of cruise and ferry port authorities and clearly highlight the port’s perspective in relevant policy debates.’

The aim of the ESPO code is to bring together practical experience of cruise and ferry ports in Europe and pro-actively set out recommendations for European ports accommodating passenger and cruise ships as regards policy applied and services available.

ESPO also believes the exercise is an active contribution from the port sector to the European Commission’s Blue Growth Initiative.

The work on the new ESPO guide for passenger and cruise ports is being driven by ESPO’s passenger committee.

This committee was set up in 2010 and gathers experts from ferry and cruise ports across the European Union. The committee works in close cooperation with cruise port organisations, including Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway and MedCruise. Collectively, these three associations represent over 250 cruise ports.

ESPO said it is also willing to engage in a constructive debate with the associations representing cruise lines or other stakeholders involved in the cruise or ferry sector.

‘More and more European ports are getting involved in cruise business. At the same time ferry traffic remains an important market for different European ports. Freight and cruise/passenger ports must respond to completely different needs, and in many cases both functions have to be combined. I am pleased that within ESPO we can have a closer look at how port authorities could face the challenges of this important and fast growing sector,’ said Eeva Hietanen, chairman of ESPO’s passenger committee.

Rob Ashdown, secretary general of CLIA Europe, told Seatrade Insider, ‘CLIA Europe welcomes ESPO’s recognition that the growth of the cruise industry, both in terms of passenger flows and numbers of ports visited, requires an additional effort on behalf of the ports to ensure that the facilities they provide are adequate for the ships using their ports.’

Ashdown added, ‘A coherent set of best practices around port management that also addresses key industry concerns such as congestion and the need for fair and transparent berth allocation procedures will be welcomed.' He said CLIA Europe’s newly restructured Ports & Destinations Subommittee, which also engages directly with the ports and their various associations, will be pleased to work with ESPO to ensure the proposed code of practice benefits from the experience of cruise ships calling at European ports.

ESPO secretary general Isabelle Ryckbost commented, ‘The experience with ESPO’s Green Guide and the Code of Practice on Societal Integration of Ports shows that this bottom-up approach works and that it is one of the best ways to dive into an issue that is becoming more challenging for European ports, spread good examples and motivate others to do better. I am convinced that the work of ESPO’s passenger committee will lead to another very useful tool for European port authorities.’

Stavros Hatzakos, president of MedCruise, representing 70 port members (both EU and non-EU) in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas, called the ESPO code ‘a key move’ in the representation of the interests of cruise ports.

‘We welcome ESPO’s wish to highlight ports’ perspectives in relevant European policy debates, and engage in a constructive debate with the associations representing cruise lines or other stakeholders involved in cruise,’ Hatzakos told Seatrade Insider.

He emphasized the work MedCruise has already undertaken with CLIA to advance the collaboration with cruise lines. ‘The ESPO move adds to these efforts. By uniting the voices of regional associations, it strengthens the voice of cruise ports at a continental level, while respective associations address local and regional issues.’

Jens Skrede, managing director of Cruise Europe, said, ‘We are very committed to take an active role in the development of this important code of good practice, to the benefit of our 115 port members.’

The European Sea Ports Organisation was founded in 1993. It represents the port authorities, port associations and port administrations of the seaports of the member states of the EU and Norway.