ECONOMY

Gov’t tries to attract more cruise visitors

The government is taking steps to make up for mistakes and delays which have had negative effects on the cruise industry in Greece over the past couple of years.

In the coming weeks the government will table in Parliament the proposed changes to the cabotage regulations that prevent vessels bearing non-European Union flags from starting or finishing their itineraries in Piraeus.

Also, it plans to offer incentives for cruise operators that make regular visits to Greece?s largest port, according to the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP).

In its bid to attract bigger clients, the government is trimming system control fees by between 10 and 30 percent and luggage delivery between 5 and 15 percent, depending on each company?s traffic.

Furthermore, OLP officials have announced a priority system for cruise vessels so that customers know their docking dates and times as of October 25 for the following year.

As of 2012, all scheduled cruises will be posted online. Any late bookings or unplanned visits will be posted by December 31 each year, according to OLP officials, who added that international cruise companies have been calling for a priority system for years.

Among the cruise operators interested in Piraeus, as well as in plans to upgrade the port itself, are Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Costa, MSC and Celebrity. For this reason, OLP has announced the creation of new berths for cruise ships and an area to host visiting passengers.

The aim is to start works and then seek investors by offering the big foreign cruise companies concessions.

Piraeus port currently has nine berths for cruise ships. The plan is to increase the total to 11 by the end of 2012 and to 17 after works to expand the new port have been completed