It appears that cruise ships might be set to return to Greece’s seas following advanced talks involving all parties concerned, with some cruise schedules potentially gradually starting from August, according to the local representative of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
During discussions between CLIA and Greece’s ministers of tourism, Haris Theocharis, and maritime affairs and island policy, Yiannis Plakiotakis, and experts of the National Public Health Organization (EODY) on Wednesday, Maria Deligianni, CLIA’s regional representative for the East Mediterranean, spoke of positive prospects for the resumption of cruise holidays in Greece by August.
“All parties agreed on the need for national and industry coordination, and a clear timeline, in order for cruise operations to resume smoothly,” Deligianni said.
“Cruise lines are looking at a gradual, phased resumption with a potentially limited number of cruise trips initially. We informed Greek officials that cruise lines are interested in including Greece in their itineraries this coming August, an aspiration which was positively received by the government,” the CLIA representative added.
“For its part, the government indicated its intention to develop a national protocol as key to the resumption of operations based on guidelines being prepared by the European Commission – specifically the European Union Healthy Gateways guidance and the European Maritime Safety Agency,” Deligianni stated: “While we stressed the need for all stakeholders to work intensively so that everything is ready by August, the safety, health and well-being of passengers and crew is the industry’s number one priority.”
“Our discussions focused on the development of framework protocols highlighting a holistic approach including the whole cruise trip, from the booking process until the departure home. Emphasis was placed on the strict pre-boarding measures and onboard procedures as well as the measures that will be taken at the embarkation and disembarkation ports, and transit calls,” concluded Deligianni.
CLIA estimated on Wednesday that the suspension of operations for over three months has led to a total national economic impact totaling at least 200 million euros, while more than 1,700 jobs may be lost. Cruise holidays are a key component of local tourism, bringing more than 15% of Greece’s total of 33 million visitors per year, based on 2019 figures.
This article was first published in Greek at ekathimerini.com