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CLIA Chair Pierfrancesco Vago: Cruise industry ‘building back better’

CLIA global chair Pierfrancesco Vago optimistic that pre-pandamic booking levels will return inside two years
'The cruise industry is — to use US President Biden’s words — building back better, and we can look forward with confidence and optimism now,' noted Pierfrancesco Vago in his maiden conference speech as CLIA Global chairman at this year’s Posidonia Sea Tourism Digital Forum.

'We continue to plot a careful and steady course to full resumption,' he added.

'More than ever, spring this year feels like a time of renewal as our industry emerges from the dark winter of COVID.'

Vago counted more than 50 cruise ships around the world either preparing to resume service of have already done so.

Eighteen of them are carrying passengers in Europe and this number will rise to 28 next month, 50 in July, and 60 in August.

‘The Mediterranean region has been at the heart of our industry’s re-emergence from the pandemic and Greece has been one of the first countries to achieve an early resumption thanks to the hard work of its people and administration,’ he said.

Greek support

Vago spoke of Greece as a 'precious opportunity to become a country of embarkation permanently and to further develop as a cruise destination' but he said 'to fully capture the advantages that the cruise industry provides there is a need to improve the infrastructure, both at the ports and the destinations.’

Vago thanked the Greek government ‘for its continuing cooperation and unwavering support, most particularly the Ministry of Shipping under the leadership of Mr Plakiotakis and the Ministry of Tourism, led by Mr Theocharis.’

UK biggest ever season

Vago referenced cruises have been operating in the Western Mediterranean and the Canary Islands since last summer and the UK is starting its biggest ever domestic cruise season. 

'There are now more 'round Britain itineraries on offer this summer than before the pandemic.

'We began first with local and cabotage cruising, and we are now seeing regional itineraries planned or taking place, according to the prevailing conditions in each market.

'As we speak, cruises are beginning to venture across the Eastern Med and for the first time in 15 months, have started sailing in Greece,' he cited.

Finishing on a positive note Vago commented: ‘I am of the view that we can expect to see pre-crisis booking levels of 2019 return by 2022 to 2023.’