ECONOMY

Delays killing jobs in cruise tourism

Greece has lost some 300,000 jobs in the cruise sector over the last few years due to delays and retractions in changes to the institutional framework for the liberalization of the market for non-European Union ships, as well as due to the lack of a flexible policy as regards yachting, the president of the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, Giorgos Gratsos, said on Wednesday.

Addressing an event on cruise and maritime tourism in the context of the Posidonia shipping exhibition, Gratsos stressed that besides the delays in opening up the cruise sector, the current policy is now pushing away yachting tourism as well. ?If we had had the right policies, Greece would have been a paradise and we might have not been talking about unemployment and an economic crisis today,? he stated.

The head of the shipping chamber referred to the inadequate infrastructure regarding maritime tourism development and accused the state of being unwilling to comprehend the significance of the maritime tourism sector.

?We have lost more than 300,000 jobs in maritime tourism and yachting alone, while Croatia and Turkey are competing to offer the most and best possible conveniences so as to attract the yachting activity that Greece is pushing away,? Gratsos stated.

Similarly, the vice president of the Cruise Ship Owners and Shipping Agencies Association (EEKFN), Michalis Lambrou, noted the considerable delay in the liberalization process for the cruise industry, but stressed that Greece is now entering the plans of the world?s major operators. ?The popularity of Greek destinations will prove beneficial to the country?s economy as the European cruise industry carries a particularly high number of passengers which will likely grow further as it is known that cruising is growing at a geometric rate,? he said.

Caretaker Development and Merchant Marine Minister Yiannis Stournaras noted that cruise passengers in Greece soared from 2 million in 2005 to 6 million last year. Each cruise passenger spends some 100 euros at the departing port, while spending about 50 euros at each port of call, the minister added.