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Ports of Spain Soon To Be “Main Cruise Destination in Europe”

Francisco Toledo

“The most important thing is that Merchant Marine, National Ports, Ministry of Health, Town Councils and autonomous communities have been able to coordinate to make Spanish ports safe places so that cruise passengers can visit Spain knowing that all the necessary health measures have been applied and have a safe experience,” Francisco Toledo, president of Puertos del Estado, told Cruise Industry News.

“As you know, mobility restrictions as a result of the pandemic have caused a drop in cruise traffic by more than 90 percent. We went from about 11 million cruise passengers in 2019 to just over 1.3 million in 2020. Everything thus suggests that this year will be one of transition,” he said, speaking about 2021.

Toledo said that Puertos del Estado’s expectations are that international cruise arrivals will reactivate in the third quarter of 2021.

“It is clear that we will not recover the levels prior to the pandemic until at least 2022, but I am convinced that we will soon position ourselves as one of the main cruise destinations in Europe and that Spanish ports will regain the leadership that they have boasted in recent years,” he said.

According to Toledo, Puertos del Estado has numerous green initiatives since it is “firmly committed to a Sustainable Transport Strategy in Ports, focused around various lines of action such as the promotion of alternative energies and the improvement of energy efficiency.”

“To cite some of the actions that are already underway: the OPS project, which will allow ships arriving at the ports to turn off their engines and connect to the electricity grid; or the LNGhive project, which will provide the ports with 'gas stations' to supply natural gas to ships that use this energy source as a propulsion method as opposed to petroleum derivatives,” he said.

“(T)wo other initiatives … will specifically contribute to the return of cruise ships to Spanish ports with more guarantees for safety. On the one hand, focusing on digitization, we are working on the development of mobile apps for cruise passengers that will speed up the entire process of arriving at the ports. On the other, we are planning port tours and visits to places of interest in closed groups with the city councils so everything is carried out with the maximum safety measures,” Toledo added.

Between 2021 and 2024, all Spanish ports will invest around 315 million euros in passenger terminals, according to Toledo.

“Among the most significant projects (due to their amount) it is worth highlighting the developments at the Adosado dock in the port of Barcelona. Likewise, the port of Valencia has a unique operation. As a result of the construction of a new container terminal, the cruise ship docks will have to be moved and a new terminal has been planned in the area adjacent to the old shipyards, with a berth and a new terminal building,” he said.

“Finally, the operation of new berths attached to the West dock in the port of Palma de Mallorca is also proposed which, although in theory they will be used for ferries, will serve to better organize and give more capacity to the set of ferry-cruise activities that currently operate mixed in Peraires-Poniente,” he added.

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