Porto was on 24 May, the spotlight of the cruise industry, with the celebration of PORTO & DOURO CRUISE FORUM 2017, an event which brought together in Porto the local, national and international cruise industry. The event was organized by Cruises News Media Group, an international consultancy specializing in the cruise industry and organiser of the International Cruise Summit.
The celebration of this event is the result of an initiative by the Porto Cruise Terminal APDL and Via Navegavel Douro APDL and co-financed by the European Union. This forum took place at Porto Cruise Terminal, situated in the south part of the Port of Leixões, an icon for the region and a work of great architectural value, a masterpiece that has completely changed the entire maritime coast of the northern region of Portugal and has already won some national and international prestigious architecture awards. A wonderful location overlooking a cruise ship moored during the celebration of the event.
The event was opened by the Board Chairman at APDL, the President at Matosinhos Municipality, and the President at North Portugal Regional Coordination and Development Commission. Emílio Brógueira Dias, Board Chairman at Port Authority of Douro, Leixões and Viana do Castelo, said “We are newcomers to the cruise industry, but we have been progressing for a number of years”; data that Helena Gomes Commercial and Marketing Manager at Port Authority, corroborated with figures like a 74% growth in cruise passengers since 2010. Fernando Freire de Sousa, President North Portugal Regional Coordination and Development Commission added “Cruise ships help achieve the macroeconomic objectives of the region and the country”.
Alfredo Serrano, National Director at CLIA gave a vision of the state of the worldwide cruise industry, with 25.3 million passengers forecast for 2017, 4.5% more than the previous year. Luis de Carvalho, CEO at BA Europe showed a presentation of the position of Portugal in worldwide itineraries, and assured that, especially in Porto, cruise passengers score their satisfaction above the expectations they had before visiting
The first two panel discussions were about Portugal as a cruise destination and as source market respectively and they counted with some of the most important representatives of the maritime cruise lines, shore excursions and shipping agencies.
In the first panel, Pullmantur expressed the satisfaction of its passengers with the calls in Lisbon and Porto, but Alessandro Carollo, Head of Port Operations at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines highlighted the need to expand facilities to accommodate larger ships in the future. Helena Gomes replied that APDL have a 10 year plan to improve all these issues.
Debating Portugal as a source market, panel two reported on the situation of the Portuguese as an issuing market, indicating that they have the handicap of having to fly every time they cruise, so the product is expensive and the socioeconomic level of the Portuguese consumer could be higher than in other markets.
The importance of developing a good source market correctly was stressed since this has as a consequence an increase in stopovers and turnaround cruises, for which it is necessary to educate travel agents well to be aware that cruises have the best value for money of all the vacation options.
The third panel about river cruising in Portugal showed that the river cruises do not represent any threat to overcrowding on the River Douro, since this is still considered by many, the “last virgin river of Europe” where the landscape is natural and there are not many cargo ships sailing it.
Both Porto and the River Douro are still relatively unknown and it is necessary improve the promotion in Portugal and Spain to attract the closest passengers.
In the last panel, companies involved in tourism, such as wine cellars and museums, asked for efforts to de-seasonalise river cruising.
Both the organisers and the promoters highlighted the possibility of this forum becoming an annual event as tool for spreading knowledge, promoting the destination and evaluating its development.
The organizers offered a “Port and wine sunset” to all the delegates at the end of the event.