Cruises and port cities, ready to return?
AIVP is organising a series of webinars entitled “Port City Talks” to continue to debate, to build the port city of tomorrow and to keep in touch with our members. The 2nd webinar of the series bears on the return of cruise activity after the health crisis that we have experienced. It will be held on Thursday 18 June 2020 at 16h00 (CEST / GMT +2).
Here is an introductory text on the challenges the cruise industry is facing after the coronavirus crisis.
The 2nd AIVP Webinar will take place in French and be moderated by Mr. Carlos Mondaca (Vice-President of AIVP, responsible for Public Affairs of the Port of San Antonio in Chile and Chairman of the Corporación de Puertos del Cono Sur), and will count with the contributions of Ms Laurence Bouchardie, (Head of the Marketing Department – Head of Cruise Bordeaux – Port of Bordeaux Atlantic), Ms Francesca Morucci, (Promotion and Public Relations Office of the North Tyrrhenian Sea Port Network Authority) and Mr Jamil Ouazzani, (Director of Marketing and Strategic Intelligence of the Port Management Company of the City of Tangier).
These webinars are exclusively for our members, but if you wish to attend, you can ask us for access.
Some figures about tourism in 2020
The UN World Tourism Organization forecasted in the World Tourism Barometer of January 2020 a growth 3% to 4% of international tourism for the current year. In its confidence index in the same month, it registered a “cautious optimism” for this year, since 47% of participants believed that in 2020 tourism would perform better than 2019. Fast forward 5 months and the same organization in edition of May of the Barometer predicted that international tourist numbers could fall between 60% and 80% in 2020. These hard figures reveal the economic disaster the tourism sector is heading to. Of course, the cold numbers do not show the social drama that is affecting millions of families depending from these activities. For that reason, in some countries, we are seeing considerable efforts from national governments rushing to open boarders again and welcome tourist. The restart of the sector seems crucial for many economies worldwide, where these activities are responsible for a considerable part of the GDP. However, the new normality, as we saw in the previous webinar, entails considerable challenges. This is particularly true for a sector depending on national and international travels, and offering pleasant experiences to the visitors, as it happens with cruises.
A need for renewal for the cruise sector before the covid-19 crisis
Last February, before the Covid-19 crisis reached the global scale we all know today, AIVP supported and joined an event in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), named “Cartagena Dialogue on Cruise, Ports and Cities 2020.” The main goal of this conference was to discuss the challenges that cruises and port cities are facing, and the innovative coexistence solutions. The sector has been at the centre of many controversies, particularly in marquee port cities in Europe. The environmental externalities are clearer every day, and there are increasing doubts about the economic advantages. It is also worth noting that the industry has been investing in new technologies to reduce the pollution inflected in port cities where these vessels dock. At the same time, cruise ships have become symbols of mass tourism, a phenomenon with origins and ramifications reaching further than the sector’s realm. We discussed about these issues before we were aware of what was about to happen in the following months.
Dramatic impact of Coronavirus on the Cruise Industry
The consequences of the Corona virus for the cruise sector have been dramatic. During the forced quarantine we have read news about how some of the major cruise companies were struggling to survive due to the forced halt in their operations. The scale of the industry implies as well massive investments that can hardly be maintain when tourists must stay home and ships docked. Other negative news depicted cruise ships as deathly traps, where passengers were infected with the covid 19 and forced to stay in. Once again, cruises gained an undesired negative symbolism. On the other hand, we have also seen how ferries and cruise ships have been refurbished to support the local health system of several port cities, for example in Italy. However, today, in many countries, governments and companies are starting to discuss and draft the “restart plans” for after the quarantine. The economic consequences remain unpredictable, and with summer arriving shortly to the north hemisphere, tourism sector is pressuring decision makers to ease the mobility restrictions and allow travel again. Cruise companies are not different, and many foresee to restart activities during the coming months. Some ports have already explained they have recovery plans for cruises. While countries like Canada have already announced that a cruise ban until the end of October.
An opportunity to define a new cruise-city-citizen balance
In this context, striving between the mourning the deceased due to the Corona virus, getting used to a new reality characterized by physical limitations and masks, and planning an economic recovery, we cannot forget the issues we discussed a few months ago concerning cruises. If we try to look at the current situation from a “productive” perspective, we could see it as an opportunity to reflect on the cruise-city-citizen relationship. Before the covid-19 we often considered it was impossible to “stop the wheel” to make changes and restart it with a new model. Now we have been given this chance, we were forced to stop and we will have to restart it. Hence, we can try to find a new way to have cruises in port cities, in a more sustainable way.
AIVP invites its members to a joint brainstorming session to discuss three main questions following a simple scheme of diagnosis – solutions – future plans:
- What is the situation in port cities worldwide concerning the cruise activities?
- Are ports and cities prepared to restart cruises in the coming months as the sector demands? If yes, under what conditions and with which new measures that guarantee the safety of tourists, workers and local citizens?
- What opportunities is this crisis offering to port cities and the cruise sector to restart the relationship, aiming at more sustainable results?
The 2nd AIVP webinar will gather representatives from different port cites of the world, where cruises are a relevant activity. This is an opportunity to discuss with them, asks questions and express your opinion.
• See the proceedings of the AIVP days on “Mega-ship: impact on port cities” organized in 2016 in Malaga (Spain)
• Watch the documentary video of the series AIVP DOC(k) “Cruise, between dream and reality”