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Europe's major cruise port associations and ESPO agree to expand collaboration

Mary Bond
The chairs of Europe's major cruise ports sign alliance for enhanced co-operation during Seatrade Med
The European Sea Ports Organisation gathered with four major European cruise port associations in Barcelona to announce enhanced cooperation between the different organisations representing over 280 cruise ports across Europe.

Following the strategic cooperation agreement signed by ESPO, Cruise Baltic, Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway and MedCruise, ESPO will intensify its efforts as the ‘official voice of the European cruise and ferry port sector towards the European institutions,’ said Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO secretary general, at a media briefing during Seatrade Med.
A range of initiatives announced include setting up a passenger port network within ESPO that would bring together Cruise Baltic, Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway and MedCruise and representatives of cruise and ferry port authorities.
The network is an extension of the ESPO passenger committee, already established, which will meet regularly to discuss the latest developments at EU policy level relevant to the cruise and ferry port sector and will define which interests should be defended.
‘I am very pleased with the decisions taken today. Cruise and ferry traffic is an increasingly important market segment for European ports and faces port authorities with specific challenges,’ Ryckbost said.

‘On behalf of our 115 member ports, I am confident that this strategic cooperation agreement will advance the collaboration with cruise lines and the association representing them and will contribute in a sustainable and mutually beneficial manner to the continued successful growth of the cruise industry,’ remarked Captain Michael McCarthy, chairman, Cruise Europe.

‘All organizations should focus on their “core business” and rather seek strategic alliances/partnerships with other organizations with complementary focus and expertise,' added Ingvar M. Mathisen, chairman, Cruise Norway. 'By entering into this strategic cooperation agreement, ESPO shall be focusing on policy matters concerning the cruise and ferry business from the ports' perspective on a European level which will enable Cruise Norway to focus on being the marketing company we are supposed to be for the benefit of our shareholders. This agreement will minimize duplication of work, save resources in form of both time and money and should provide better results.'
And MedCruise president Stavros Hatzakos called the initiative a 'clear mark of cruise ports' commitment and investment in effective alliances. It is also a major step for improving the representation of cruise ports,' he said. 'Sharing knowledge and expertise port associations will advance cruise ports interests and best practices the finest way possible. They will also provide meaningful input in discussions with policy makers and stakeholders.'
ESPO offered to engage in a constructive debate with the associations representing cruise lines and other stakeholders involved in the cruise or ferry sectors and investigate potential collaborative synergies.

CLIA Europe secretary general Rob Ashdown told Seatrade Insider, 'We very much welcome cruise port issues being brought to the forefront of ESPO's agenda and believe that using a very professional and highly experienced Brussels-based organisation will enable the cruise port sector to meet the regulatory challenges of the future more effectively.'

ESPO represents the port authorities, port associations and port administrations of the seaports of the member states of the European Union and Norway.