Adriatic ports to welcome 4.73 million cruise passengers in 2017

Risposte Turismo report released at Adriatic Sea Forum forecasts cruise and ferry figures
Adriatic ports to welcome 4.73 million cruise passengers in 2017
Delegates learn about the challenges and opportunities in the Adriatic's cruise and ferry sectors (Image: Risposte Turismo)

By Rebecca Gibson |

Cruise ports on the Adriatic coast are expected to welcome 4.73 million cruise passengers during a total of 3,428 calls in 2017, according to a new Risposte Turismo report.

Presented at the Adriatic Sea Forum in Budva, Montenegro on 27 and 28 April 2017, the Adriatic Sea Tourism Report showed that there will be an 8.01% decrease in the number of cruise calls from 2016. This will prompt a 6.51% drop in passenger numbers.

Venice in Italy is expected to be the busiest cruise port, welcoming around 1.42 million passengers during 473 calls, followed by Dubrovnik in Croatia, which will host around 744,000 passengers and 537 calls, and Corfu in Greece, which will handle 635,000 visitors during 408 calls.

“Overall, the signals generated by maritime tourism in the Adriatic provide contrasting indications, which must be interpreted as a stimulus for more, and better, work,” said Francesco di Cesare, president of Risposte Turismo, who presented the report at the forum. “Cruise operations can benefit from the presence of a range of ports with quality infrastructures and services on both Adriatic coastlines. If the numbers for 2017 are not as we’d like them to be, this should be seen as a result of the tragic terrorism events in the Mediterranean and of the still uncertain situation in Venice, leading companies to focus less on the Adriatic, with benefits for other areas of the world which have, over the years have grown most considerably (Asia is a key case in point).”

. Risposte Turismo found that ferry, hydrofoil and catamaran passenger numbers are expected to increase by 1.5% from 2016 to hit 17.9 million passengers. The forecasted number of calls will remain stable at around 83,800.

Growth is expected at Split, Zadar, Rijeka and Šibenik in Croatia, as well as Duerres in Albania and Otranto in Italy. Numbers will be stable in the Italian ports of Ancona and Brindisi, as well as the Croatian ports of Dubrovnik, Poreč, Rovinj and Umag.

“The presence of ferry companies has not fallen off and, indeed, they are considering a greater presence, exploiting current factors of systemic significance such as lower bunker costs, and other more structural factors such as the growing appeal of eastern Adriatic destinations, generating demand for old and new routes,” said di Cesare.

This year, the Adriatic Sea Forum was organised by Risposte Turismo in partnership with the National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro, the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism of Montenegro, and the authority that manages Montenegro’s coastline.

Key themes included developing passenger ferry traffic, growing boating tourism in the broader context of the Mediterranean, and the challenges and opportunities facing cruise destinations in the Adriatic Sea. Highlights included a keynote address from Tom Fecke, secretary general of CLIA Europe, and an address from Joan Gual de Torrella, president of the Port Authority of the Balearic Islands, who spoke about how to manage cruise and ferry passenger traffic.

Roundtables focused on how Adriatic destinations can benefit from increased ferry traffic – particularly outside of the busy summer season – and how they can enhance port services to reduce operating costs and achieve this growth. Other sessions looked at how to build stronger cooperation among local ports and partners, and across different countries.

Another roundtable focused on the challenges and opportunities for cruising, and highlighted strategies well-established Adriatic ports have used to attract cruise tourists. Participants also discussed how destinations can better understand passengers’ needs and demands, and the economic impact of the cruise sector.

“The debate that has taken place during this edition of the forum underscores the general desire of operators to create a path toward collaboration and joint promotion for the benefit of all parties, based on a project with clear intentions, directed toward concrete objectives and results,” said di Cesare. “By means of this project, and the resources required and pooling of goals and objectives, the Adriatic may aim to enhance its recognition worldwide and work toward generating demand in markets further afield, without neglecting the European catchment basin, for increased results in terms of incoming tourists, economic impacts and attention paid to the needs of the area and of the local communities.”

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