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6m passengers and 3,000 calls forecast for Italy in 2022

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Western Ligurian Sea Ports Authority President Paolo Emilio Signorini (left) and Costa Cruises President Mario Zanetti join the discussion at Italian Cruise Day 2021
Italian ports are expecting to log a 100%-plus increase in both passenger movements and ship calls in 2022, compared to this year.

Forecasts by Risposte Turismo suggest 42 Italian ports will collectively welcome 5.98m cruise passengers on 2,928 ship visits next year, according to the latest edition of its Italian Cruise Watch presented at last Friday’s Italian Cruise Day in Savona.

The numbers represent a 118% and 102% increment respectively in passengers and calls compared to this year: ‘At the end of 2021, Italian ports will handle 2.77m passengers, compared to 645,000 passengers in 2020,’ said Francesco di Cesare, president of Risposte Turismo. Ship calls will increase to 1,447 compared to 1,079 in 2020.

2006 levels

Di Cesare predicted if next year’s forecasts come to fruition cruise traffic in Italy will finish on the same levels as in 2006, after a drop to 1993 numbers in 2020 and a return to 2001 results, expected at the end of this year.

‘On the one hand these numbers testify to the ability of cruising to relaunch, on the other hand they cannot hide the extent of the drop in value, still far from the historical record of 2019.

‘It will take some time before the dynamics and, with them, the numbers, return to the pre-pandemic levels,’ he warned.

The Risposte Turismo president estimated €1.7bn in passenger spending has been lost in Italian ports during the pandemic without counting other connected losses to the national tourism income.

Reminding of the government's effort to support a restart of tourism, Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia underlined the €2.4bn Recovery Plan, which has had ‘positive effects, therefore, also for the cruise sector.’

Traffic estimates for 2022

Looking at 2022, Civitavecchia will once top the rankings as the country’s leading cruise port with almost 1.5m passengers expected, and a strong recovery sees Naples also expected to exceed 1m passengers followed by Genoa and La Spezia with about 750,000 cruise passengers each, said di Cesare.

He estimated 13 ports will receive over 100,000 passengers next year.  

Liguria is expected to be the leading cruise destination in Italy with Genoa, Savona, La Spezia and other smaller ports collectively welcoming over 2m passengers, a result close to pre-pandemic levels.

2021 forecast

The forecast for 2021 year end is expected to see Civitavecchia leading with 550,000 passengers followed by Genoa with 460,000 and Palermo with about 300,000.

Next up Bari with 230,000 passengers and Naples and Savona in competition for the fifth position, with respectively, about 200,000 and 180,000 passengers. Trieste follows with about 140,000 passengers while the national top 10 cruise ports will see two new entrants: Monfalcone and Taranto with 100,000 and almost 90,000 passengers respectively. Between them is La Spezia in ninth place, a ranking that sees three Ligurian ports in the top 10.

Between 2022-2024 over €821m is planned to be invested on cruise developments in Italian ports including €258m in infrastructure (31.4 %), €231m for dredging (28.2%) and €210m for terminals (25.7%). Investments attributable to environmental issues exceed €107m (13.1%), while other items comprise less than 2%.

And Venice?

Venice, once among Italy's busiest cruise ports, was barely mentioned owing to the uncertainty about temporary berthing in Marghera for 2022. Venice is expected to end 2021 with 18,043 passengers and 24 calls, 17th place in the top 20. 

Italian Cruise Day

Italian Cruise Day 2021, held at Costa Cruises’ Palacrociere in Savona and supported by Costa Cruises and the Western Ligurian Sea Ports Authority, also heard from speakers including  Ukko Metsola, director general CLIA Europe; Rodolfo Giampieri, president of Assoporti (Italian Ports Association), and Valeria Mangiarotti, SVP of MedCruise.