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The industry’s future, ships under constructions and the Asian market boom; key topics of the International Cruise Summit 2016

The sixth edition of the most important cruise conference in Europe attracts over 400 delegates

The sixth edition of the International Cruise Summit, held on November 22nd and 23rd in Madrid, exceeded the success of previous meetings and confirmed the importance of this congress within the industry. More than 400 attendees were able to learn about this constantly growing industry.  

The inauguration of this latest edition was in the capable hands of José Llorca Ortega, SPANISH STATE PORTS AGENCY who highlighted the importance of the cruise sector for thousands of people who work in ports, Marta Blanco Quesada, General Director of Turespaña - TURESPAÑA - SPANISH TOURIST BOARD, Anunciada Fernández de Córdova, Director of Culture and Tourism - REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF MADRID, Sabine Schwanz, Director of Tourism Promotion MADRID DESTINO - MADRID CITY COUNCIL and Virginia López Valiente, CEO CRUISES NEWS MEDIA GROUP.  

The keynote speech was given by the current president of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, Pierfrancesco Vago. Mr Vago highlighted the importance of harmonizing European regulations for ship calls with the aim of continually helping the industry to grow within the environmental responsibility this sector has shown for many years. He also talked about the great contribution cruises make to the European economy; where 75 boats will be built in the next few years - worth €41,000m, and he recommend destinations to improve the integration of tourism with the city in those more overcrowded ports.

One of the significant moments of the International Cruise Summit 2016 was when Virginia López, CEO of Cruises News Media Group, interviewed Pullmantur Group President, Richard Vogel, who said that as a smaller cruise line they should focus on their strengths as a Spanish company dedicated to the Spanish and South American market. He also said that one of their objectives is to further develop cruises to the Canary Islands and not to seasonalise the cruise vacation.  

The large number of ships under construction and the current order book of cruise lines were two of the topics that attracted much attention in this edition due to their connection with sales and congestion of certain ports. The Chinese market, to which several of these new ships, will be dedicated will be very important. Juergen Stille, Director of Business Development in Continental Europe of Norwegian Cruise Line, wanted to highlight the growth opportunity that exists in this market. "China is in recession but its level of cruise penetration is only 0.1%", he said.  

Elsewhere, Alan Lam, Senior Editor of Cruise Business Review, expressed concern about the heavy order book and his doubts about China's ability to fill all the ships planned.  

The presentation by the new president of CLIA, Kerry Anastassiadis was also received with great interest. The current CEO of Celestyal Cruises addressed several of the issues that are giving the utmost concern to the industry. In particular, he highlighted the importance of reestablishing normality in the Mediterranean after the different terrorist attacks of the last months and he also highlighted the great challenge that this geopolitical situation infersfor industry. Furthermore, he said that he did not believe Trump's victory would affect the sector.  

The planning of cruising itineraries was another topic discussed where it is possible to see that more and more ports are looking out for each other. Moreover, in the future, the availability of Liquefied Natural Gas in the ports will be an important factor since many of the boats that are been build will use this fuel.  

This sixth edition brought further enhancement to Spain’s image as the number two European cruise tourist destination and the positioning of Madrid as a pivotal city in hosting international congresses. In addition, Spain will be further enriched as a reference in the sector for its infrastructure, variety of destinations, including cultural diversions and / or entertainment for everyone. €1,323m of economic impact was generated in Spain in 2015 according to Pierfrancesco Vago’s keynote speech.  

This latest edition of the International Cruise Summit was also noteworthy by the multitude of opportunities that the attendees had to interact with the speakers at sessions and presentations as well as the networking occasions in an environment that improves year after year.

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