Continued Growth, Costa Concordia, EU Tourist Visas and more discussed at the vibrant opening day of Seatrade Med 2012.
The Mediterranean may still be one of the world’s great cruise hubs, as destination, source market and service provider, but as a number of speakers pointed out on the opening day of the Seatrade Med Cruise and Superyacht Convention, continued growth may come at a high cost.
In the opening session on The Mediterranean Market, Carnival UK chief executive David Dingle was among the optimists. He described 2012 as an exceptional year when ‘a whole concatenation of events came together to trouble us.’ At the same time, he believed the pattern of strong growth could be restored. While economic issues had hit Spain hard, and the Italian market had suffered the Concordia effect and somewhat from its economic woes, ‘the UK is stable, Germany continues to be a powerhouse, and France I see as the biggest untapped market in Europe. If only we can turn on the tap.’
Costa Crociere president Gianni Onorato spoke for those who were less buoyant about the immediate future. ‘There is good potential for growth. But I would make a distinction between growth and healthy growth. Healthy growth is selling a cruise in accordance with its value.
‘We have to show that cruise is not a commodity, that it has a value. To do that we have to look at how it is distributed. In Spain, we have had strong growth, but there has also been a price war between competitors that we don’t want to happen elsewhere.’
During his keynote address, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of the European Cruise Council discussed one of the key limitations to growth in the Mediterranean cruise market ‘The opportunities to attract cruise tourists from other parts of the world to Europe, with its unique and rich cultural heritage, are enormous. We are concerned, however, that this huge potential is being hampered by unnecessarily bureaucratic procedures for the issuing of tourist visas into Europe.’ He argued that political will is now needed to make progress on simplifying the process of issuing tourist visas.
The ninth edition of Seatrade Med saw well over 2000 participants from 64 countries through the doors of Parc Chanot, Marseille on the first day, making the opening day and opening ceremony the best-attended show in Seatrade Med history.