The Return to Growth: Challenges ahead for Cruise Lines and Destinations
After the long pandemic pause, the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum returns live with a 2-day Conference and Exhibition that will take place on 25-26 April 2023 in Greece’s second largest city and port, Thessaloniki. The decision to hold the event there, instead of Athens, was made in the spirit of the forum’s central theme that focuses on sustainability strategies and the importance of introducing more destination and port alternatives to dilute impact and optimize cruise traffic management in the Mediterranean.
Among panel topics will be the necessity for regions and cruise lines to cooperate in expanding itinerary range, increasing infrastructure viability and popularity of alternative ports of call and finally, managing call concentrations to defuse over-tourism phenomena.
The conference will take a spherical approach on sustainability challenges that come from cruising growth in the Mediterranean and examine ideas from a variety of angles that include commercial, tourism, operational-technical and infrastructure development points of view.
Around the entire Mediterranean coastline and its islands there are countless potential transit alternatives, as well as main & regional homeporting options to support new approaches to itinerary design. Approaches that will better protect the natural, cultural and tourism values of destinations and promote a sustainable future for the regional hosting of cruise activity.
Although marquee ports will always be important for selling cruises, more nearby destination alternatives will add scheduling flexibility, as well as travel experience value and passenger satisfaction. Among alternative destinations some could be raised to marquee status, as there are still many bypassed Mediterranean gems that deserve to be given the chance to evolve commercially, develop adequate infrastructures and share the benefits.
Thessaloniki is a good example of a highly viable transit call and turnaround alternative. Both city and port invested in a serious effort to elevate both cruise friendliness and tourist infrastructure and it seems to be paying off, going from 6 cruise ship arrivals in 2019 to 60 in 2022, 50% of them homeporting. The presence of a significantly upgraded International Airport and nearby emerging markets with surface access could potentially increase this port’s strategic importance.
The city was recently listed by Conde Nast Traveller among the 22 “most underestimated” European destinations. Thessaloniki enjoys a UNESCO World Heritage listing for its Byzantine and Paleo-Christian monuments and as Greece’s No1 destination for gastronomy. It has a unique old world charm and is peppered with rare architectural, cultural and historic wonders, including a Jewish heritage that is among Europe’s most significant. It is also close to a world class archaeological destination with ancient Macedonian Kingdom sites and a stunning museum dedicated to Phillip and his son Alexander the Great.
Thessaloniki is just one of many Mediterranean examples that have yet to be appreciated for their true worth and Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum's goal is to instigate a new approach to cruise geography and destination development that could contribute towards a sustainable cruising future in this highly popular, multifaceted and profitable region.
Download the 2023 PSTF Brochure here.