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Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum 2017 probes growth prospects

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While the global cruise industry’s outlook remains strong in 2017, local geopolitical tensions have impacted the East Med’s performance as a sea tourism region. Industry stakeholders will come together at the 4th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum this spring in Athens in an effort to reinvent Cruising in the East Mediterranean, so that the region can benefit from the present boom of the cruise industry. Current demand for East Med cruises is in stark contrast to the positive Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) projections that estimate 25.3m cruisers in 2017, a 4.5% increase over the previous year. At the same time global capacity will increase with the addition of 26 new ocean, river and specialty vessels. Long-term estimates indicate the industry will add a further 97 new ships in less than ten years with an investment of nearly US$53billion.

Posidonia Exhibitions, the organisers of this two-day event, believe that the carefully selected issues to be addressed during the conference could lead to solutions that would facilitate the region’s recovery to the benefit of both cruise operators and local economies.

“Stakeholders of the East Med’s and Black Sea’s interdependent destinations must work together to reinvent the region’s combined offering,” said Posidonia Exhibitions’ Executive Director, Theodore Vokos.

“In order to convince operators to redeploy more of their assets to the region and add new itineraries, we must develop a long-term vision based on mutually beneficial strategies. Strategies designed to create a cohesive, consistent and alluring product that will spur demand for the region and create new homeport destinations,” he added.

This is exactly what representatives of the world’s leading cruise lines will discuss at the biennial international conference and exhibition, taking place on May 23-24 at Megaron Athens International Conference Centre. Expert speakers and the region's stakeholders will address the challenges and debate possible strategies and solutions.

Focusing precisely on such solutions is the Berth Allocation Workshop that will deal with this important requirement high on CLIA’s agenda. This is a must-attend workshop for port operators, as they will be able to learn how to design an optimal system that will suit their specific realities, thus improving their efficiency, profitability and demand for their port.
Destinations and ports not currently on major cruise line itineraries will also benefit from this forum, as their representatives can meet with cruise executives responsible for itinerary planning and gain from their vast experience with the world’s marquee and emerging destinations. Cruise lines are always on the lookout for new destinations, such as the recent inclusion of Samos in Celestyal Cruises’ itineraries showcases.

The recent completion of two high profile privatisations, COSCO’s takeover of the Port of Piraeus and Fraport’s of 14 regional airports, have altered the strategic importance of Greece as a cruise destination and gateway to the Central and East Mediterranean. Both companies have committed to infrastructure and services upgrades that will ultimately benefit cruise prospects in the region. In addition, thanks to Fraport’s commitment to increase connectivity with key European tourism markets, certain peripheral ports will become possible homeporting options.

“Coupled with a parallel privatisation programme for strategic ports and marinas which is in advanced planning stages, it seems more than certain that the overall sea tourism product of Greece across cruising and yachting stands to reap significant long-term benefits if the right actions are taken,” added Vokos.

But the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum will be an enlarged event this year, thanks to its enhanced workshop and seminar programme.

As cruise sales are a rising segment of the business and offer high commission rates, a special workshop on how to generate new business is designed to draw the attention of travel agents. CLIA Europe will be involved in this project, as it will also participate at the Posidonia Forum to present its CLIA membership programme aiming to boost its membership in Greece. CLIA membership can offer many benefits to travel agents, as well as to suppliers and service providers.

The projected renaissance of Greece’s sea tourism has also reignited the interest of the young generation in yachting, cruising and passenger shipping. YES to Sea Tourism Forum will address the opportunities available in these sectors and the skills needed to be successful in them. This will be achieved through an open dialogue between the forum delegates and the industry executives who will be on the Panel.

“YES aims to serve as a platform of open dialogue between young promising executives and the decision makers from our industries, connecting employers with prospective employees and giving them the opportunity to network, interact and create relationships that may prove highly rewarding,” said Danae Bezantakou, YES Forum founder.

A main feature of the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum will again be the enlarged exhibition space. The Exhibition will provide the ideal marketing platform for ports & destinations, hotels & resorts, airports, tourist service providers, technical support companies, sector publishers, new technologies, yacht managers & brokers, yacht interiors specialists and marinas to promote their business proposition and identify potential partners.

The 4th Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum is organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy, and supported by the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports (MEDCRUISE), the Hellenic Port Association (ELIME), the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Association, the Greek Marinas Association, the Association of Passenger Shipping Companies, the Union of Cruise Ship Owners & Associated Members, the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies (HATTA). Silver Sponsors are the Piraeus Port Authority, Air France - KLM - Delta and Bronze Sponsors are Celestyal Cruises, Aktina Travel Group and the Hellenic Motor Museum.

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