MedCruise president Airam Díaz Pastor aims to create better relationships between ports and cities in the Mediterranean (Image: MedCruise)
This article was first published in Spring/Summer 2018 issue of the International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Formed in 1996, MedCruise is an organisation with 31 associate members from cruise-related organisations and 69 port authorities that collectively represent more than 100 cruise ports across the Mediterranean. These members collaborate to promote the Mediterranean cruise sector and act as a collective stakeholder to negotiate new regulations, policies and best practices with other national and international organisations, such as the European Union.
Over the past decade, MedCruise member ports have experienced a 41% rise in cruise traffic. To continue to boost cruise traffic, MedCruise plans to increase and strengthen its partnerships with cruise lines, associations, municipalities and other related stakeholders over the next few years. At the 51st MedCruise Assembly in Toulon, France last October, MedCruise members and the board of directors voted to go ahead with a new collaboration and communication strategy that aims to achieve sustainable cruise growth in the MedCruise regions, and across the world.
As part of the working plan, members from the board of directors will be responsible for promoting collaboration and increasing cooperation with other cruise port associations, such as Cruise Lines International Association, European Sea Ports Organisation and The World Associaton for Waterbone Transport Infrastructure (PIANC). They will also seek to partner with more private companies and public institutions, and work more closely with the European Union, particularly because MedCruise is the only cruise ports association in the European Ports Forum.
In my role as MedCruise president, I will work alongside the board to enhance the collaboration between members and associate members to give more value to MedCruise as their main promotional platform. This will be done with the support of the representatives on the board of directors who are responsible for marketing and communications, and the members’ professional development. In addition, two further members from the board will remain dedicated to studying how to develop MedCruise regions in the global cruise industry.
One of MedCruise’s priorities is to help create better relationships between ports and cities – an aim that is shared by many cruise destination and associations worldwide. MedCruise will create a strategy to work with cruise lines and other industry stakeholders to educate local residents, companies and councils about the benefits the cruise industry can bring to their cities. To achieve this, a member on the board of directors who is in charge of projects and studies is leading a working group that will determine the impact of cruise activities in the ports.
The same member also leads a working group focused on researching the opportunities for, and benefits of, providing LNG fuel to cruise vessels in MedCruise ports. This supports the work of another board member, who is responsible for helping MedCruise ports to overcome environmental challenges and prepare for new regulations, such as port reception facilities directives, before they become mandatory.
Attracting new source markets will continue to be a challenge for MedCruise in 2018 and beyond. Since 2015, the association has been attending the biggest Asia-based cruise and tourism events as both an exhibitor and a speaker to promote its ports to a new audience. MedCruise also has a board member dedicated to developing the Asia market, while still ensuring that the organisation continues to cater for all the new trends and customer expectations coming out of its traditional source markets.
The magnificent relationship between cruise lines and MedCruise members is at the core of the association. MedCruise creates opportunities for members to showcase their port facilities and shore excursions at major international events such as Seatrade Cruise Med, which will take place in Lisbon, Portugal in September 2018. Lisbon is a MedCruise member and will use the event to show cruise line representatives its new cruise terminal, which opened in November, the same week as fellow MedCruise member Port of Heraklion inaugurated its new cruise facility in Crete. MedCruise members will highlight similar developments at the event this year, including the Port of Zadar Authority´s soon-to-open cruise terminal in Croatia (read more on page 183) and other projects.
Members will also have the opportunity to organise business-to-business meetings and network with cruise line executives at MedCruise’s biannual General Assemblies. During these meetings, members and cruise line executives can discuss the latest news about ports and destinations, as well as future shipbuilding and deployment trends. MedCruise introduced a new and renovated agenda to its General Assembly when it welcomed cruise lines to Valletta, Malta (the 2018 European Capital of Culture) this May.
Throughout 2018 and into the future, I will continue to work alongside MedCruise members, the board of directors and the secretariat to promote cruise sector in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Red Sea, Adriatic and near Atlantic, and use this business to enhance the wealth and sustainability of local communities.
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