Cruise companies around the world are actively accepting reservations and preparing for the 2021/2022 tourist season
At present, all planned cruise ship arrivals in the port of Riga have been canceled until August, the port says in a press release. Experts predict that cruise ship routes in Europe and regional cruises could be the first in the industry to be resumed. One of the examples - the Tallink Groupp passenger ship “Silja Serenade “- will start operating today with the regular cruise line on the route Riga - Helsinki. The vessel will go to Finland from the port of Riga every other day until August 15. Sea cruises to Åland and the Saaremaa islands are also planned this summer.
At the same time, cruise companies around the world are actively accepting reservations and preparing for the 2021/2022 tourist season by developing special security protocols and planning a cruise travel map for the next five years.
Having in mind external marketing activities with the aim to attract new cruise ships to the port of Riga, shortly before the national holidays, the Freeport of Riga CEO Ansis Zeltins met with partners involved in the cruise tourism industry. These were representatives from Riga Tourism Development Bureau, LIAA Tourism Department, Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association, “Riga” Airport, SIA “Rīgas Pasažieru termināls”, “Riga Cruiseship Agency” and travel agency “Latvia Tours”.
“In order to attract more cruise ships and tourists to Riga, it is not enough to have appropriate berths and terminals for boarding passengers. We also need a unique, competitive tourism offer and an efficient and convenient city infrastructure ", said the CEO of the Freeport of Riga Ansis Zeltins, pointing out that this task requires the active involvement and participation of all industry representatives and the city. "Now, at a time when the cruise industry has stopped its operation all over the world, it is the right time for everyone to identify and do their homework, which in the long run would provide an opportunity to strengthen Riga's position in the Baltic Sea cruise market," said A. Zeltins.
Mr. Bo Larsen, Vice President of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), also took part in the discussion remotely, presenting the current situation and future prospects in the cruise industry. The Freeport of Riga Authority has been a member of CLIA for several years; this membership allows to establish and maintain contacts with cruise companies and to more actively promote Riga as a cruise tourism destination.
"Despite the fact that the cruise segment is currently one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis, according to the results of the CLIA research cruise tourists tend to be loyal to this type of travel, so the demand for cruise trips remains consistently high. According to CLIA forecasts, activity in the sector will resume, especially in the Baltic Sea region, which has been relatively less affected by the crisis", emphasized Bo Larsen. According to him, next season there could be a gradual renewal of cruise routes, the industry's adaptation to the new rules, and in 2022 - a return to the pre-crisis level, expecting a rapid increase in the number of cruise tourists.
The Port of Riga has set an ambitious objective - to make Riga a “home port/turnaround port” of the Baltic cruise companies - a port where cruise passengers start and end their journey. This would not only improve the port's performance, but would also make a greater contribution to the development of Riga's tourism and hospitality industry.