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Strong outlook for future of Med cruising: MedCruise President Figen Ayan

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#MedCruise4Crew encourages the association's member ports to offer benefits to visiting crew members
MedCruise President Figen Ayan predicts cruising in the Mediterranean will go beyond bouncing back and draw more ships than in previous years.

‘We're getting back to the share [of global cruise ship deployment] we were used to pre-pandemic,' she said during remarks at Seatrade Cruise Global.

In 2020, the Mediterranean's share of global deployment stood at 9.3%, rising steeply to 20% in 2021, while the world-leading Caribbean's share was 49.6% in 2020 and 35.8% in 2021 as Caribbean recovery lagged Europe.

The total number of passenger movements in the Mediterranean topped 1.5m in 2021.

Some 829,000 berths and almost 500 ships are forecast for the region between 2000 and 2027.

The association's full 2021 market report is available on the MedCruise website.

Pandemic impact

In 2019, the average cruise ship brought 2,000 passengers, a figure that dropped to 1,621 in 2020, ‘as if we had lost 20 years of our industry,' Ayan said.

The Black Sea was the region worst affected by the pandemic, however MedCruise was part of the successful push to restore cruising between Greece and Turkey.

Environment

Ayan told attendees during the ‘Trends in the Mediterranean’ conference session that sustainability is at the top of the association’s agenda and it is preparing to launch its Sustainability and Ecosystem initiative. ‘We’re defining a holistic approach to sustainability and there are different things that are going to come to the table.’

The top five issues for the Med in 2021 were its relationship with cruise lines, connectivity of the destination with source markets, exploitation of the potential for winter cruising, becoming a homeport and infrastructure (except transport) at the port.

She emphasised the need to improve the industry’s public image within the context of sustainability.

Among the other factors taking priority are: ship congestion in the port, mobility to and from the port, connectivity of the destination with source markets plus environmental issues, such as noise, air quality, dust, etc.

Ayan, who has increased the number of member ports by five to a total of 145 since taking up her role, said there is a need for ‘balance’ of the economic benefits of cruise calls versus the impact on local communities.

‘We need to understand what the local communities need… you need a 360-degree approach when doing this business.

‘Some of the ports want to become homeports… and want to understand how to reach this goal. Mobility to and from the port is another matter that is really important for us. The two things are intermingled and go together.’

She went on to add that the association has signed an agreement with AIVP (the worldwide network of port cities) and is participating in a working group with the NGO to bring the cruise industry and local communities together.

For every individual that attends MedCruise’s General Assembly next month in Roses and Palamós, Costa Brava, the association will plant one tree. It also will begin working with the Global Sustainable Tourism Council since 94% of passengers seek more environmentally friendly tours, according to an Intercruises survey.

Initiatives

Among the initiatives being launched by MedCruise are #MedCruise4Crew, encouraging member ports to offer benefits to crew members, and #GreenMedCruise, involving collaboration with the European Union on sustainable practices.

Data

The importance of gathering and utilising data was also referenced. Said Ayan, ‘We want to become the source of cruise data. Data is key so we can better serve our members.’

She concluded, ‘Our diversity is definitely our strength,' adding she hopes to do great things in the next 2.5 years of her presidency.

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