Piraeus Port, Greece's largest, aims to increase its cruise traffic from 1 million passengers a year up to 1.5 million in the short-term and to 3 million long-term, its managing director, Fu Cheng Qiu, said on Friday.
COSCO Shipping, which owns the world's fourth-largest container shipping fleet, bought 51 percent of the port's operating company last year, and plans significant investment to turn the port into a transhipment hub for rapidly growing trade between Asia and Eastern Europe.
In a speech welcoming a first group of 250 Chinese cruise passengers in Piraeus, Fu, who took over last year, said COSCO also plans to upgrade cruise services to attract Chinese tourists and tap into the port's growth potential in the cruise industry in the Mediterranean Sea.
Fu said that COSCO has signed an agreement with China's third largest air carrier, China Eastern Airlines, to bring Chinese tourists to Greece on chartered flights. The Chinese will then embark on cruise trips in the Mediterranean Sea via Piraeus. [Reuters]