ECONOMY

Europe offers good prospects for sea cruises

Cruise vacations in Europe have positive growth prospects, with the number of Europeans opting for a cruise during their holidays rising by 17 percent last year compared with 2003, exceeding 3.21 million people, against 2.67 million in 2003. Industry experts estimate that by 2010 the number of European citizens choosing a cruise will reach 4.5 million, the European Cruise Council heard during its annual event «Seatrade Med Cruise & Ferry Convention,» held in Naples, Italy. The report presented at the event showed that the economic turnover from holiday packages in the main Western European markets last year came to 48.15 billion euros, up by 4 percent from 2004, with 8.4 percent coming from cruises. The countries to benefit the most from the rise in the cruise trade were the UK (18 percent), Italy (12.1 percent) and Spain (10.4 percent). The same report suggests that cruises attract some 11 million people per year, from which 3.2 million are from Europe and 9.1 million from the USA. The UK market is the biggest in Europe with more than 1 million per year, followed by Germany (640,000), Italy (512,000), Spain (380,000) and France (235,000). Greece remains at low levels with just 14,000 annually. Shipping sources told Kathimerini that Greece could maximize its profits from cruise packages if the existing legal framework changes to allow for circular cruises and non-EU flagged ships; then the major cruise companies that have expressed interest, such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean International and P&O, would get involved.