Cruise travel is currently one of the most rapidly growing tourism segments in the world, chosen for recreation by approximately 23 million passengers every year. Market trends suggest that the number of cruise passengers may increase by another third by 2030, revealing more and more new tourist routes and market niches.
A significant increase in the number of cruise passengers has also been observed at the Port of Riga for several years now. Last year Riga was visited by 86 cruise ships, bringing almost 90 thousand passengers from more than 120 countries, thus hitting a new ten-year passenger record at the Port of Riga. According to the information summarized by the Freeport of Riga Authority, the number of cruise ships continues to grow in 2018 as well: at the moment 91 cruise ships, including 6 ships, which will visit Riga for the first time, have already applied for entry to the Port of Riga this season.
“An increase in the number of cruises in the Port of Riga is a vivid result of the purposeful work, which we have been carrying out for several years in order to put Riga in capital letters on the world’s map of cruise routes in spite of tough competition, thus proving ourselves to be a safe, hospitable and appealing destination to passengers”, Ansis Zeltins, CEO of the Freeport of Riga, is convinced.
Last week on March 6-8 the management of the Freeport of Riga Authority, together with partners from the Riga Passenger Terminal, Riga Tourism Development Bureau and representatives of travel agencies representing Riga, participated in the largest exhibition and conference of the cruise industry Seatrade Cruise Global 2018, which gathers cruise sector professionals from across the world in Fort Lauderdale, Florida every year.
The goal is to attract interest to Riga among new cruise operators, in addition to already existing ones.
“The name of Riga is already known to the industry. By maintaining the high quality of service and competitive tourism offers, we have the potential of ensuring that Riga becomes an even more popular point on the cruise tourism road”, Zeltins emphasizes, adding that the dredging of the main navigation channel, increasing the maximum depth of the navigation channel planned to be completed by the beginning of this year’s cruise ship season, will ensure a possibility of welcoming even bigger and more voluminous cruise ships in the Port of Riga in years to come.
The Freeport of Riga Authority has participated in Seatrade Cruise Global 11 times. This year Riga’s stand in honor of Latvia’s centenary was solemnly opened by the Ambassador of Latvia to the United States, Andris Teikmanis. During the exhibition, in order to meet the representatives of Riga and discuss future cooperation possibilities, the stand was visited by the managers of the world’s leading cruise operators such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, MSC Cruises, StPeterline, Disney Cruise Line, Carnival Cruises UK, etc., which suggested that the path chosen by Riga and its strategy in attracting cruise ships were correct, and it had all the possibilities to see more world-level cruise liners in the Port of Riga in the future.
This year the first two cruise ships already arrived in Riga in January, but it is planned that the active cruise season will start on April 22. (PortNews/Business World Magazine)