Cruises boom but terror risk remains in south Med

50 bn investments at Seatrade global event

17 March, 17:14

    Grimaldi Lines, Cruise Roma Grimaldi Lines, Cruise Roma

    NAPLES - Cruises worldwide are booming and 74 large cruise ships are being built globally and will be inaugurated over the next decade, with investments worth 50 billion dollars (46.5 billion euros) by the cruise companies.

    But the geo-political situation worldwide remains difficult and concerns companies and operators in the sector, according to data released at the Seatrade Global event in Miami, the most important dedicated to the cruise sector worldwide, where Mediterranean destinations ranked first along the Caribbeans as the top choice for international tourists.

    ''There has never been in history such a massive construction order for ships by the cruise industry. This is a long-term investment effort for companies that stems from the brilliant future that we have ahead'', stressed Pierfrancesco Vago, the executive president of Msc crociere in statements to US media outlets. Investments are being made because the market is constantly expanding: in 2017, 25.3 million people went on a cruise, 800,000 more than in 2016, as reported by the Cruise Lines International Association. But growth will not stop, given that cruises are a niche market making up only 4% of the market of potential tourists worldwide. In the Mediterranean, the instability of destinations such as Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia that cruise companies abandoned over the terror risk continues to have an impact with companies still unable to know whether they will be able to return.

    ''Every morning I wake up and I don't find reassuring headlines on newspapers'', explained Frank Del Rio, a CEO at Norwegian.

    And so at the Seatrade the promotion of Mediterranean destinations has been very strong. Italy was at the forefront with the ports of Naples and Salerno which presented themselves for the first time united after the reform of port authorities and want to recuperate passengers after a strong drop that will be registered this year. Investments in the Spanish port system have also been strong with the aim of reaching 9.5 million cruisers by 2020 and invest on classic destinations like Barcelona and Ibiza as well as new destinations like Bilbao and La Coruna. Yet Spain is also ready to connect with other countries, as explained by Raimond Jaume, from the Balearics port: ''We are launching an alliance project for cruises with Minorca, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and Malta to ''build together an itinerary that is very well-liked by tourists''.

    Among the problems examined, on the other side of the Atlantic, is the so-called 'Trump effect' that could stifle growth of some new destinations, like Cuba, which could suffer from restrictions on the trips of Americans. An effect that for the moment however brings benefits, as stressed by Del Rio, who noted that the stock market in the US touched record highs and there will be fiscal and structural reforms in the sector that will bring benefits. 

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