Addressing the issue of balancing growth with sustainability, Michael Thamm, Chairman, CLIA Europe and Group Chief Executive Officer, Costa Group and Carnival Asiacommented in the Keynote Address, “Cruising continues to be the preferred holiday experience for an expected 30 million passengers in 2019 globally, with 7.5 million coming from Europe. Europe is the second biggest cruise market with 25% share of the business and 540 ports of the 1600+ worldwide.”
Thamm told the audience of over 450 delegates, “Although our share of some of the busiest destinations is between 5% and 10%, we are conscious of public concerns and we are committed to working more closely with local stakeholders.”
Addressing the audience openly, Thamm stated, “Let me be direct: this public image does not reflect who we are. As a cruise industry, we are conscious that with our growth and increased weight comes with the need to act responsibly, and we are taking our social responsibilities very seriously.”
Thamm was followed on stage by a strong panel of industry executives that featured: Felix Eichhorn, President, AIDA Cruises;Capt. Michael McCarthy, Chairman, Cruise Europe; Wybcke Meier, Chief Executive Officer, TUI Cruises GmbH; Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises; Karl J. Pojer, Chief Executive Officer, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises; and Gavin Smith, SVP of International, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Sustainability and source markets were also key topics in the panel discussion moderated by Mary Bond Group Director of Seatrade.
Responding to challenges facing ports, McCarthy, who represents over 100 North European ports, called on cruise lines, as well as CLIA, to increase using ports as industry ambassadors and an interface to local stakeholders on sustainability matters. He added that member ports of Cruise Europe are increasingly facing questions related to operational matters which, if armed with more information, could be handled at source.
Turning to the German source market, Pojer was optimistic it will continue to prosper long into the 2020’s suggesting it could surpass the benchmark of 3 million passengers per year by 2021/2022.
Meier of TUI Cruises noted, “Our latest research shows the potential in Germany is high. Germans love to travel and, with 34% of Germans wanting to cruise and only 8% having been on a cruise, there’s huge potential especially in Northern Europe.”
Eichhorn also commented on the German cruise market addressing the need to differentiate and offer new experiences to passengers, “We need to listen to customers and provide new ships, destinations and cruises with a focus on what we offer on shore.”
The opening session also addressed the impact of Brexit on the industry, particularly in the UK market. “The UK and Ireland are going through a difficult period which will impact passengers' confidence but ‘staycations’ are becoming more popular as people seek to escape from their problems - and we can provide that as an industry,” commented Smith.
Wrapping up the session, moderator Bond asked “Fast forwarding to Seatrade Europe in 2025, what do you think will be top of the cruise agenda in Europe and why?”
Onorato said “We will be talking about developing new destinations.” Moreover, Smith predicted, “Technology and the way customers buy, and how we deliver the cruise products will change over the next 6 years.”
Day One continues with free content on the Showcase Deck, ‘Cruise Passengers Welcome – Balanced Tourism Solutions by SeaConsult & TRIAD’ and two conference sessions: ‘Greener Cruising’ sponsored by gmec and ‘River Cruising in Europe – How to Cope with Safety and Sustainability Challenges.’ The first day is rounded up by the popular ‘Taste of the Tropics’ Welcome Reception hosted by the Caribbean Village.
Seatrade Europe continues until Friday 13 September 2019 at Hamburg Messe, Hamburg, Germany.