Barcelona to break cruise ship record in 2016 with 2.7 million passengers
Panama City (CNA).- Barcelona will close 2016 with some 2.7 million cruise passengers, beating the record set in 2011 of 2.6 million travellers. The data was announced on Monday by the president of Port of Barcelona, Sixte Cambra, who is taking part in a trade mission with fifty Catalan companies in Panama. According to Cambra, in comparison to 2015, by the end of 2016 the number of cruise passengers will have grown by about 9-10%, a rise that he attributed “to the boost of Port of Barcelona activity as a home port, which has grown 18%, while layover activities have experienced a slight decline of 1-2%”. Cambra believes that harbour activity as a base port “generates more wealth for the city and its surroundings”. It is estimated that cruises will generate a turnover of almost €1,000 million this year, while the contribution to the Catalan GDP could reach €500 million.
The activity of the Port of Barcelona as a home port will represent for the first time ever 61% of total activity in 2016, while last year this figure stood at around 53-55%. As reported by Cambra, this type of traffic “is the one that generates more wealth for the city and its surroundings and also the one that generates the least external effects, unlike the passengers that have layovers and only spend few hours in the city”. In fact, Cambra noted that there has been stagnation in layover activity and, specifically, October ended with a slight decrease of between 1-2%.
As for the economic impact of the cruise sector in Barcelona, Sixte Cambra said it is estimated that turnover could reach €1,000 million, while the contribution to the Catalan GDP could reach €500 million. However, Cambra stated that the more reliable data was obtained thanks to a study by the University of Barcelona (UB) in 2014. According to the report, the turnover in 2014 reached €800 million and the impact on GDP reached €415 million.
The Port of Barcelona, a gateway to Europe
Cambra presented the data during a business conference in Panama on Monday, which included the participation of about 250 Panamanian entrepreneurs. The conference is one of the activities in the framework of the business mission organised by the Port of Barcelona, together with Acció, the Catalan Public competitiveness and internationalisation agency, to Cuba and Panama, where the Catalan Government seeks to expand its economic influence.
The Catalan Minister for Planning and Sustainability, Josep Rull, was responsible for the opening of the conference and claimed in his speech the potential of the Port of Barcelona as a gateway to Europe. Rull said that the harbour is the “port of the Mediterranean and it is open to the Atlantic and to all Latin America”. According to the Minister, “right now the Port of Barcelona is already the most important gateway for goods coming from Asia via the Suez Canal”, a fact that highlights the “industrial strength of Catalonia”.
Rull asked the Panamanian authorities and businessmen to choose the Port of Barcelona “as the option to reach Europe” and announced that the Catalan Government would like Panama to be the guest country at the International Logistics and Material Handling Exhibition (SIL) taking place in 2017. In addition, Rull stressed the importance of the Panama Canal and highlighted “the enormous and extraordinary effort” made by the country to achieve its expansion.
For his part, the Minister of Maritime Affairs and administrator at the Panama Maritime Authority, Jorge Barakat, stated that the country needs “strategic partners” such as the Port of Barcelona to “cooperate in the whole logistic development”. Furthermore, he encouraged both countries to sign strategic agreements regarding this.