The number of cruise ships visiting Dubrovnik and other Croatian ports is set to fall dramatically in 2017, a new report presented at the Adriatic Sea Forum has revealed.
As the historic Italian town of Venice takes steps to limit the tourist burden at some of its main attractions, ports in the Eastern Adriatic are expected to lose out as cruise lines look for alternative routes in other parts of the world. And while the Western Balkans has not been directly targeted by terrorism recently, instability and terror attacks elsewhere in the Mediterranean region are expected to have a similar impact.
The number of cruise passengers at Croatia’s most visited port Dubrovnik is expected to decline by 11% y/y to 744,598 in 2017, the 2017 edition of the Adriatic Sea Tourism Report showed.
Meanwhile, the number of calls at Dubrovnik were expected to drop by 103 to 537 in 2017, and those at Split by 43 to 229. However, only a modest decline in calls were expected at the Croatian ports of Opatija, Rjeka and Zadar, while Pula bucked the negative trend with an anticipated 118.3% increase in passengers and an additional 43 cals bringing the total number to a still modest 62.
However, with regard to cruises, Croatia remained second only to Italy, serving 1.38mn passengers in 2016, representing a 27.2% of the total of cruise passengers on the Adriatic Sea. Montenegro’s share stood at 10.7% with a total of 543,892 cruise passengers while Slovenia’s share was 1.6% with 79,562 passengers and Albania’s share was 0.9% with 46,473 passengers.
Elsewhere in the Balkans, Montenegro’s Kotor is also expected to see a 7% y/y decline in cruise passengers to 500,000.
The study forecasts that in 2017, the number of cruise passengers using Adriatic ports will total around 4.73mn (-6.51% on 2016) with 3,428 calls (-8.01% y/y).
“Overall, the signals generated by maritime tourism in the Adriatic provide contrasting indications,” Francesco di Cesare, president of Risposte Turismo, told the forum.
“If the numbers for 2017 are not as we’d like them to be, this is to 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).”
At the end of April, Venice's city council adopted a set of measures intended to reduce the tourist burden at the city’s most popular areas, amid growing local anger over the overwhelming influx of tourists every year. Measures will range from installing people-counters in high-traffic areas to increased policing, though softer steps such as promoting less visited sites will also be taken.
If this results in fewer cruise ships visiting Venice, it could have a knock-on effect for other Adriatic ports typically include on the same itineraries.
But while cruise calls are set to decrease in 2017, the report shows that the number of ferry trips and passengers will grow, with Croatia leading the way.
Croatia hosted 8.87mn passengers on ferries, hydrofoil and fast catamaran boats last year and it was the leader of the Adriatic region with a 50.3% share of the total.
Albania served a total of 1.29mn ferry passengers last year and took a 7.3% share of the total while Montenegro’s share was 0.2% with 35,925 passengers and Slovenia’s share was 0.1% with 14,040.
“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,” commented di Cesare.
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