MedCruise has announced that it has welcomed the European Sea Ports Organization’s (ESPO) decision to work in collaboration with MedCruise and other regional cruise port organizations, in order to increase the awareness of cruise and ferry ports, and promote best practices in the sector.

It also welcomes the ESPO’s wish to highlight ports’ perspectives in relevant European policy debates, and engage in a constructive debate with the associations representing cruise lines or other stakeholders involved in cruise.

MedCruise said it works already to advance the collaboration with cruise lines, and the association representing them. And it will continue to do so, for the benefit of its 70 port members in the Mediterranean and adjoining seas.

The ESPO move is seen as adding to these efforts. Uniting regional groups also strengthens the voice of cruise ports at a European level, while the respective associations address local and regional issues, according to a MedCruise statement.

“This concrete step allows policy-makers and our business partners, particularly cruise lines and their associations, to identify reliable and effective partners in discussing the prospects of the industry, both at continental and regional levels.

“This is a key move in the representation of the interests of cruise ports. It will undoubtedly help both our European and non-European members of MedCruise to see positive policies emerging, and enjoy the benefits of the effective advocacy of their interests through port associations.” MedCruise stated.

In its statement, the ESPO said that in order to respond to the growing number of cruise passengers in Europe, the increasing number of ports involved in the cruise business and new challenges ferry ports might be facing, it wants to strengthen the voice of cruise and ferry port authorities and clearly highlight the port’s perspectives in relevant policy debates.

ESPO has also decided to work on the development of a code of practice for both cruise and ferry ports.

The aim of the ESPO code is to bring together the practical experience of cruise and ferry ports in Europe and pro-actively set out policy and service recommendations for European ports accommodating passenger and cruise ships. At the same time, it said that this exercise is an active contribution from the port sector to the Commission’s Blue Growth Initiative.

The work on the new ESPO guide for passenger and cruise ports was launched in Riga in May 2014 by ESPO’s passenger committee. This committee was set up in 2010 and gathers experts from ferry and cruise ports from across the European Union. The Committee works in close cooperation with different cruise port organizations, including MedCruise and Cruise Norway.

According to the ESPO statement, it is also willing to engage in a constructive debate with the associations representing cruise lines or other stakeholders involved in the cruise or ferry sector.

“More and more European ports are getting involved in cruise business. At the same time ferry traffic remains an important market for different European ports. Freight and cruise/passenger ports must respond to completely different needs, and in many cases both functions have to be combined. I am pleased that within ESPO we can have a closer look at how port authorities could face the challenges of this important and fast growing sector,” commented Eva Hietanen, chairman of ESPO’s passenger committee.

“The experience with ESPO’s Green Guide and the Code of Practice on Societal Integration of Ports, shows that this bottom-up approach works and that it is one of the best ways to dive into an issue that is becoming more challenging for European ports, spread good examples and motivate others to do better. I am convinced that the work of ESPO’s passenger committee will lead to another very useful tool for European port authorities,” added ESPO Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost.