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Black sea is safe for tourism development — the participants of the international meeting in Odesa addressed a letter to the leaders of the cruise ship industry

“MedCruise”, the world's largest association of cruise business entities, is ready to provide a marketing platform for promoting the interests of the Black Sea ports on the global market of sea tourism. This was stated on October 17 in Odesa by “MedCruise” President Ayram Diaz Pastor in his speech at the first meeting of the international working group on the revival of cruise shipping in the Black Sea, “MedCruise” Black Sea Working Group Meeting. The meeting was organized in accordance with the Action Plan adopted by the Odesa Sea Port Authority at the 52nd General Assembly of “MedCruise” (Malta, May 2018) and was held under the patronage of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, the Odesa City Council and two international organizations — the non-governmental “MedCruise” Association and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC). The representatives of the authorities of the passenger ports of Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania, the general managers of the travel and shipping companies, and other experts in the cruise tourism industry took part in the discussion at the round table.

 

As the meeting participants noted, the growth of political tension in the Black Sea region suspended the development of the cruise business five years ago. However, today the security has stabilized and it is time for the leading passenger ports of the Black Sea to pool their efforts to return the “white ships” to the northern routes of the Bosporus.

 

‘Of course, the issues of tourists` safety are in the first place for us,’ Yuri Lavrenyuk, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine stated in his speech. ‘Today, the Ministry has worked to ensure that every port, every terminal has its own plan to protect port facilities ... In addition, this year, Ukraine has undergone an audit of IMO, the International Maritime Organization. Following the audit, we received only two considerations and nine recommendations. We have the best indicator in Europe. Improvement of the security level in the port cities is carried out in an integrated manner by both law enforcement agencies and the authorities. Take a look at Odesa today. Thousands of video cameras are installed in the city, the police constantly patrol the historical center, street crime is revealed literally hot on the heels. Today, the sea capital of our state is somewhere between second and third place in terms of security among the major cities. And we must bring this information to the attention of our partners — shipping companies that are planning cruise itineraries in Europe.’

 

Raivis Veckagans, Acting CEO of Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority (USPA), said in his speech that the tourist season 2018 would go down in history as a starting point in restoring cruise shipping in Ukraine. According to the official, during this season, port of Odesa received 17 and the port of Ust-Dunaysk accepted 36 ship calls of the river-sea passenger liners that is 14 ship calls more than last year and 40 ship calls more than two years ago. Such an increase in the number of river cruises clearly confirms the interest of foreign tourists in visiting Ukrainian cities.

 

‘In my opinion, it is time to raise an issue of the restoring of sea cruise ships visits, especially, to Odesa,’ R. Vetskagans said. ‘Moreover, we are watching significant success of Odesa Sea Port Authority, the authorities of the Danube region ports and the local authorities in modernizing the urban tourism infrastructure, creating conditions for servicing the cruise fleet at a high international standard level.’

 

In the context of the discussion on the problems of restoring cruise shipping, the meeting participants drew attention to the breakthrough of Odesa in the field of tourism services.

 

Thus, according to Odesa Deputy Mayor Pavlo Vugelman, today the Black Sea capital of Ukraine is able to attract tourists with interesting events such as exhibitions, concerts, festivals, etc., 365 days a year. 30-50 facades in the historic center are being renovated annually, new promenades were built, monuments of garden and park art were reconstructed, and the recent amendments to the legislation adopted by the Verkhovna Rada open up opportunities for improving the situation with the availability of tour buses parking.

 

Continuing this topic, Igor Tkachuk, General Manager of Odesa Sea Port Authority, slightly unveiled the development program of the passenger terminal. In particular, it concerned the implementation of investment projects for the reconstruction of the concert and exhibition complex of the passenger terminal, the station square, negotiations with the French company to resume the work of the hotel Odessa, which has been idle since 2011. General manager of the port suggested the meeting participants to discuss the possibilities of expanding the range of tourist programs in the region because today the market demands services focused not only on the needs and on preferences of Western tourists.

 

‘I would like to draw attention to the growth in the number of cruise travelers from China. This, in our opinion, opens up additional opportunities for the Black Sea ports, which could remove the problem of an excessive number of tourist groups from the Middle Kingdom in the traditional centers of cruise tourism on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea,’ I. Tkachuk said. ‘The annual growth of cruise tourists in the world, due to the Chinese factor as well, should stimulate all of us to be more active, to convey to the governments our arguments about the need for joint action and the creation of a long-term policy of developing cruise business, which brings large profits, above all, to communities of coastal cities. I hope that this meeting will give an impulse for coordinated work in this direction of our partners from the “MedCruise” Association, port authorities of the Black Sea countries.’

 

The participants of the “MedCruise” Black Sea Working Group Meeting in Odesa approved the program of further activities of the international working group aimed at attracting the tour operators to the Black Sea market and signed a joint letter addressed to the cruise companies. In particular, the letter states that the Black Sea basin is safe for the cruise business development and today no factors would adversely affect passenger vessels visiting the Black Sea ports.

 

The minutes of the event recorded the parties' desire to make the meetings of the working group of the Black Sea cruise ports annually.

 

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