Porto was on 24 May, the focus of the cruise industry, with the celebration of PORTO & DOURO CRUISE FORUM 2017, an event that brought together in Porto the local, national and international cruise industry. The event was organized by Cruises News Media Group, an international consultancy specializing in the cruise industry and organizer of the International Cruise Summit.
The celebration of this event is the result of the initiative of the Porto Cruise Terminal APDL and Via Navegavel Douro APDL and cofinanced by the European Union. This forum took place at Porto Cruise Terminal, situated at the south part of the Port of Leixões, an icon for the region and a work of great architectural value, a masterpiece that has completely changed the entire maritime coast of the northern region of Portugal and has already won some national and international prestigious architecture awards. A wonderful place overlooking a cruise ship moored during the celebration of the event.
The event was opened by the Board Chairman at APDL, the President at Matosinhos Municipality, and the President at North Portugal Regional Coordination and Develepment Commision. Emílio Brógueira Dias, Board Chairman at Port Authority of Douro, Leixões and Viana do Castelo, said “We are newcomers to the cruise industry, but we have been upgraded for a few years”, data that Helena Gomes, Commercial and Marketing Manager at Port Authority, corroborated with figures, like a 74% growth in cruise passengers since 2010. Fernando Freire de Sousa, President North Portugal Regional Coordination and Development Comission added “Cruise ships help achieve the macroeconomic objectives of the region and the country”.
Alfredo Serrano, National Director at CLIA gave a vision of the state of the worldwide cruise industry, with 25,3 million passengers forecast for 2017, 4.5% more than the previous year. Luis de Carvalho, CEO at BA Europe showed a presentation of the position of Portugal in worldwide itineraries, and assured that, especially in Porto, cruise passengers score their satisfaction above expectations they had before visiting.
The first two panel discussions were about Portugal as a cruise destination and as source market respectively and they counted with some of the most important representatives of the maritime cruise lines, shore excursions and shipping agencies.
In the first panel, Pullmantur expressed the satisfaction of its passengers with the calls in Lisbon and Porto, but Alessandro Carollo, Head of Port Operations at Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines highlighted the need of expand facilities to accommodate larger ships in the future. Helena Gomes replied that APDL have a 10 year plan to improve all this matters.
Discussing about Portugal as a source market, panel two reported on the situation of the Portuguese as an issuing market, indicating that they have the handicap of having to fly every time they cruise, so the product is expensive and the socioeconomic level of the Portuguese consumer could be higher than in other markets. It was stressed the importance of developing correctly a good source market since this has as a consequence an increase of stopovers and turnaround cruises, for which it is necessary to educate travel agents well to be aware that the cruises have the best value for money of all the vacation options.
The third panel about river cruising at Portugal showed that the river cruises do not represent any threat of massification of the river Douro, since this is still considered by many, the "last virgin river of Europe" since the landscape is nature and there are not many cargo ships sailing it. Both Porto and the Douro river are still very unknown and it’s necessary improve the promotion in Portugal and Spain to attract the closest passengers.
In the last panel, companies involved in tourism, as wine cellars or museums, asked for efforts to de-seasonalise river cruising.
The organizers offered at the end of the event a “Port and wine sunset” to all the attendees.