China, and the Far East in general, could provide the answer to the Greek cruise industry’s problems, which have been compounded by geopolitical instability in the region and the financial and migration crises.
From data published by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) on the growth rate of cruise passengers from the Asian market, market professionals have estimated that Greece could add up to 40,000 more passenger-visitors to the 140,000 who board at Greek ports.
The two parameters that could help in that direction are the acquisition of Piraeus Port Authority by China’s Cosco Shipping Ports, given the Hong Kong-listed group’s commitment to develop cruise activity and infrastructure in Piraeus, and the creation of a new airport at Kastelli on Crete, which could make nearby Iraklio a home port to match Piraeus, considering its proximity to popular islands such as Santorini.
People familiar with the Chinese plans have told Kathimerini that the new airport on Crete will take time. It is also worth remembering that a Chinese group (China State Construction Engineering Co.) is among those to have expressed an interest in the construction and operation of the Kastelli airport.