Middle East conflict could impact regional cruises

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As the global cruise tourism industry is showing amazing prospects, the crisis that has erupted in neighbouring Israel is creating new factors which may negatively affect the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Permanent Secretary of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, Costas Constantinou, told a conference in Limassol that Cyprus could be a casualty of the conflict’s impact on regional cruises.

He said, “Cruise tourism is becoming a major form of tourism for the Cypriot economy and a key factor in the prosperity and development of the country.”

“Unfortunately, the very recent developments in our region are creating new facts.

“This situation, especially if the crisis does not end soon, may have a negative impact on the cruise tourism sector in the entire Eastern Mediterranean region.”

Constantinou said it was up to all stakeholders to contribute to the best possible management of the situation and minimise any impact of the war in Israel.

“It is also up to all of us to showcase Cyprus’ advantages, the high level of services provided and the unique experiences.”

The potential impact on the cruise industry in the region by an ongoing war situation in Israel was highlighted by Maria Deligianni, Eastern Mediterranean Director General at the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

She argued that the Eastern Mediterranean is vulnerable to geopolitical tensions, considered its weak point.

However, she stressed the region is unique and offers visitors experiences from countries with different cultures.

Commercial Director of DP World Limassol, Lazaros Charalambous, said that 207,000 passengers arrived at the port in 2022; they reached 300,000 in 2023, while 350,000 visitors are expected in 2024.

He estimates that around 20% will revisit the country where they had the most beautiful cruise experience for a longer stay.

DP World’s commercial director said geopolitical developments in the region are seen as the biggest challenge, “as tourists are not only coming for Cyprus but for the whole Eastern Mediterranean experience”.

The impact of a long-term war in neighbouring Israel is expected to be known in 2025 since cruise ship itineraries are scheduled at least two years in advance.