Cruise industry welcomes inaugural conference of EU’s Pan-European dialogue between cruise operators, ports and coastal tourism stakeholders

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CLIACLIA Europe, the association representing Europe’s multi-billion euro cruise industry which employs almost 340,000 people in Europe, welcomed yesterday’s (Thursday’s) inaugural conference of the EU’s Pan-European Dialogue between cruise operators, ports, and coastal tourism stakeholders, which took place during European Shipping Week in Bussels.
CLIA Europe also stressed the focus should be on concrete measures to overcome the hurdles to cruise tourism’s growth if Europe is to retain its position as world’s number one tourism destination.
Pierfrancesco Vago, CLIA Europe Chairman and Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, outlined how the cruise industry has for some time pressed the case for a permanent, structured forum of discussion bringing together the cruise industry, ports, and regional/local tourism actors.
He said: “I would like to congratulate the European Commission for making the pan-European Dialogue a reality. This important milestone will help foster contact and cooperation between stakeholders and show how we can work together on challenges and opportunities.”
Mr Vago made the case for further changes at the EU level in order for cruise tourism to continue to increase its contribution to Europe’s economic recovery, particularly in coastal areas that have been hit disproportionately hard by the economic downturn.
“The cruise industry is already an essential part of Europe’s economic recovery and, with more support from national and European regulators we could do much better. The launch of the Pan-European Dialogue is welcome evidence of change. But change must continue if Europe is to remain the world’s ‘number one’ tourism destination.”
Mr Vago also set out the priority challenges this platform should address, including the need to implement current environmental legislation in a harmonised way, streamline visa procedures, invest in coastal infrastructure, and improve port facilities.
Mr Vago concluded: “The European Commission has provided us with a framework within which we can now all work together to address these and other challenges as well as to maximise opportunities. However, the success of this Platform will ultimately be judged by the outcomes that it produces, in terms of concrete steps to overcome these hurdles to growth.”