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Cruise start sailing again? Cruise without pressure to the islands is possible

Pierfrancesco Vago, President of the International Association of Cruise Companies, talks to "K" about the need for a new deal
"We expect the season to start, from Easter to at least October ", notes Mr.. Wagon.

The assessment that Greece can increase its financial benefits from the cruise, while protecting destinations from mass tourism and ensuring their sustainability, says the president of the International Association of Cruise Companies speaking to "K" (CLIA) and Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, Pierfrancesco Vago…………….

Recognizes the existence of hypertourism in Greek destinations and states that CLIA is willing to work closely with the authorities and stakeholders to address them.

He also notes that in order to solve this problem, On the one hand, investments must be made for the proper management of the flows of visitors and ships, and on the other hand, other Greek destinations must be developed through investments in infrastructure in order to alleviate the burden borne by islands such as Mykonos and Santorini..

In other words, he proposes a quasi-new deal for the Greek cruise. He expects the cruises to start gradually around Easter, depending on the epidemiological picture, and will continue, barring unforeseen, until October.

- What is your forecast for this season in the Mediterranean and in Greece in particular;
- Greece was one of the first European countries to show a gradual and healthy restart of the cruise in 2020, result of the cooperation with the competent Greek authorities. We welcome the plan presented by the Minister of Tourism, Mr.. Theocharis, according to which the Greek government aims to open tourism from mid-May. We are waiting for its confirmation, until mid-April in order to start the season, from Easter to at least October, and we will continue to coordinate our preparations with the competent authorities. also, the tripartite agreement of Greece, Israel and Cyprus encourage travel to the region.

In other parts of the Mediterranean the schedules vary according to the conditions prevailing in each market.

- How can passengers and locals be sure that cruise ships will not act as "multipliers" of the virus;
- The cruise industry has worked intensively throughout 2020 to develop improved protocols. The measures include examinations, test at 100% of passengers and crews, extensive clean-ups and integrated monitoring and response measures. essentially, we redefined and reinvented the entire cruise experience. As a result, Today cruise ships are not only not "multiplier" but offer one of the safest holiday experiences.

- Greece lags behind average revenue per cruise passenger compared to Spain or Italy. Why do you think this is happening and how can it be fixed?;
- Greece has a rich maritime heritage and the profits it can make from the cruise as a whole far exceed the revenue from each passenger. Before the pandemic, the cruise industry contributed 957 million. euros in the Greek economy and supported more than 11.000 jobs. Revenues for local economies also come from the supply chain, including food and beverages, fuel supply, boat maintenance and other services. Offering all this, Greece has the opportunity to increase its cruise revenues. Greece also has significant growth prospects as a cruise destination. Investing in new destinations, port infrastructure and facilities could play a key role in implementing this development perspective, while reducing the pressure on iconic destinations such as Santorini.

- Destinations in Greece such as Mykonos and Santorini were significantly affected before the pandemic, from "hypertourism". How does CLIA plan to deal with the phenomenon?, affecting other Mediterranean destinations;
- Contributing to the sustainable development of destinations is crucial for the cruise industry. Companies work with destinations around the world, exchanging experiences, planning itineraries and shaping new experiences for travelers, with priority given to the protection of the natural and cultural heritage. In GREECE, for example, CLIA works with the World Council for Sustainable Tourism (GSTC) and with the local authorities in Corfu and Heraklion, Crete, in order to help municipalities understand how to reap the maximum social and economic benefits from tourism but in terms of sustainability.

Our industry is leading the effort to help destinations manage tourist flows, B.C. through a docking system. The Greek islands can benefit from a reservation system, like those in other countries. Furthermore, the cruise industry offers to co-invest in local infrastructure development to help manage visitor flows, as with the installation of an additional cable car for access to the city of Santorini. A typical example is our cooperation with Dubrovnik, Croatia, which showed how the local authorities, local community and travel industry can work together to achieve a shared vision for responsible tourism.

- Many are concerned about the environmental footprint of cruise ships. How CLIA members respond;
- Shipping is responsible for 2,2% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide (according to the International Chamber of Shipping) and the cruise represents much less than 1% of world shipping. However, our industry is committed to a sustainable tourism future and CLIA members worldwide are committed to reducing their fleet carbon dioxide emissions by 40% until the 2030 compared to 2008.

- When do you think the cruise will return to its levels 2019;
- Although many challenges remain, the availability of the vaccine, in combination with protocols and experience, offers us great optimism for the future.
On a personal level, I am naturally optimistic and I think we will recover quite quickly, as we have always done in the past, thanks to strong demand. I estimate the return to its booking levels 2019 will be held by 2022 until the 2023.

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