EEKFN: Bookings to Greece could plummet in 2017 as cruise ships return to Turkey

Greek cruise ship owners expect a 25 pct drop in bookings to Greece in 2017 as cruise ships deterred from visiting Turkey by last summer’s events return to that country once again, the head of the Union of Cruise Ship Owners and Shipping Agencies (EEKFN) Theodoros Kontes told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Thursday.

“This year the cruise market in Greece rose to very good levels because many cruise ships bound for Turkey changed their itineraries and came to our country,” Kontes said. Referring to the National Cruises Committee, he said this needed an additional sub-committee able to quickly address the urgent issues for the sector.

Kontes made the statements after emerging from a meeting on the sector’s problems with main opposition New Democracy MPs Fotini Arabatzi and Simos Kedikoglou.

Kedikoglou noted the need to improve facilities at Greek ports and further develop the Greek ship building industry, which he said had suffered as a result of the higher 24 pct VAT imposed on the sector under the present government’s policies.

Arabatzi said that there were now 170 confirmed cancellations of planned stops by cruise ship at Greek ports, representing a loss of 350,000 passengers or 30 pct down on the previous year. “The government must take all the necessary steps to protect the Greek cruise sector from losses in 2017 as much as possible and to shield the tourist season in 2018,” she said.