PortStatistics of 2019 reveal the successful adaptation and growth of Med ports before the arrival of the pandemic.
Article by Thanos Pallis, Aimilia Papachristou & George Vaggelas
While cruise shipping and ports around the globe reassessing their future in the ‘new’ normal, PortEconomics is presenting you the top-15 ports in the Mediterranean Sea for the past year, 2019 as well as the trends comparing to 2018 and the evolution of cruise passenger movement since the beginning of the 2010s.
PortStatistics of 2019 reveals the successful adaptation to the demands of cruise shipping, which, in a context of a seemingly unstoppable globalization, resulted in the remarkable growth of Mediterranean ports before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, the top-15 ports hosted 22.74 million passenger movements, 5.5 million more than at the beginning of the decade, and 2.5 million more than the previous year (+13%).
Barcelona exceeded for a second successive year the 3 million passenger movements threshold. Hosting 3.1 m passenger movement (+3% compared to 2018) it remained the busiest cruise port of all throughout Europe.
Three more Meditteranean cruise ports recorded more than two million passenger movements in 2019, all of them reporting an identical growth of 9%:.These are Balearic islands, Civitavecchia (+9%), and Genoa/Savona. The latter is reported in aggregate given that the two ports operate as part of the same port system authority.
Naples and Santorini are the two ports that experienced the major passenger increase in 2019
Naples and Santorini are the two ports that experienced the major passenger increase in 2019, Naples/Salerno and nearby smaller ports experienced a +36% growth, while the Greek island of Santorini hosted 31% more passengers than it had done in 2018.
The operated by Global Ports Holding Valletta port in Malta was another success story of 2019 in terms of passenger growth, as the 902,425 passengers that were hosted in 2019 represented a 27% increase. Piraeus (+14%) was the fourth port in the Meditteranean sea that experienced growth above the average growth of the ports in the list.
Evolution of Meditteranean cruise ports in the 2010s
Beyond, the PortGraphic, we have prepared a PortVideo detailing the evolution of the cruise ports industry throughout the last decade.
At the beginning of the decade the top-15 ports in the Med hosted just over 17 million passenger movements – that was almost triple the size of the respective number of 2000. These numbers looked at the end of 2019 as ‘moderate’. And even the 34% growth of Barcelona port since 2010 does not impress as much as the +72 of Balearic islands within a decade, the +83% of Valetta, and the +167% of Marseille.
It is tempting to note that the three Med ports that recorded the major cruise growth of the last decade are public ports operating under different governance models, with two of them operated by specialized terminal operators.
It is also notable that among the few ports that did not see the number of hosted passengers growing were Dubrovnic (-14% when comparing 2010 with 2019), and Venice (zero growth over the last decade), are cases that experienced the rise of social and environmental concern regarding the sustainability of further growth of cruise activities.
As commonly said, Meditteranean has managed to cruise through the storms (i.e. 9/11 at the turn of the century; financial tsunami in 2008-9, the Arab spring and geopolitical changes more recently; and not least the Costa Concordia event) and rise as the second cruise market of the world (hosting approximately 17% of the globally deployed cruise ship capacity).
Now that due to COVID-19 the storm looks the (really) ‘perfect’ one, it is worth monitoring the quickness and the innovative ways that the cruise port industry will be able to its dual target – i.e. adapt to the new conditions and address the pre-existing social and environmental challenges – and return to the growth levels experienced in the past decade.