The chair of Clia Europe has issued a stark warning to the industry, cautioning that the future “could be much brighter” for the sector than it currently is.
Speaking in Hamburg at the opening session of Seatrade Europe – Pierfrancesco Vago, Clia Europe’s chair, said there were a number of challenges looming on the horizon which threaten to undermine future growth, “unless action is urgently taken”.
The biannual cruise event took place last week, focusing on Europe’s cruising market.
Vago insisted there was still optimism in the sector, which last year “continued to grow and increase its relevance in Europe” he said, generating 350,000 jobs – 10,000 more than in the previous year.
He also said it had helped drive European industrial production, with 29 out 31 oceangoing cruise ships scheduled to be delivered by 2018 being built in European shipyards.
However he warned: “The cruise industry’s growth in Europe has slowed down compared to previous years. While the long-term trend remains positive, the future could be much brighter.
“A number of critical constraints to the industry’s further growth need urgent addressing if we want to ensure that the cruise industry will continue to be a solid contributor to Europe’s economy.”
During his keynote speech, Vago also highlighted some key areas that are acting as constraint to the cruise industry’s further growth, namely insufficient development of port infrastructure; the uneven application of EU environmental legislation in Europe’s ports; and constraints impeding the arrival of more third-country tourists in Europe, he said.
He also stressed the need to further expand port infrastructure. “Many European ports are struggling to keep up with the cruise industry’s rapid growth.
“Upgrading port infrastructure throughout Europe is a necessary investment that would open new routes and destinations, and further boost the industry’s economic impact on land,” he added. “We also need to make sure that more European ports have adequate facilities allowing cruise ships to discharge wastewater onshore.”