ATHENS, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Greek ports are expected to attract more cruise tourists following a rise of about 15 percent both in cruise liner calls and passenger arrivals in 2019, officials have told Xinhua.
Last year, the number of cruise passengers traveling from Greek ports increased by 15.64 percent to more than 5.53 million, and that of cruise ship arrivals increased by 14.34 percent to 3,899, the Hellenic Ports Association, a non-profit organization for Greece's port operation, said Tuesday.
Piraeus, Greece's biggest port, remains the top destination for cruises in Greece for the 10th year in a row, with 622 cruise liners visiting it or leaving it last year, compared to 524 in the previous year.
The Piraeus Port Authority, a subsidiary of China's COSCO SHIPPING Group, anticipates a further increase in 2020, according to Deputy Manager for Public and Investor Relations Nektarios Demenopoulos.
After a "very satisfactory growth" in 2019, figures are projected to grow higher in the next years, he said.
Cruise ships towards Greece will carry more tourists in the future, Demenopoulos added. "In 2020 and 2021, we expect several vessels with a capacity of 5,000-7,000 passengers each, compared to cruise liners of 2,000-3,000 in the past."
Heraklio, the largest city on the island of Crete, also projects that cruise tourism will grow in the coming years. Last year it reached its highest figures in a decade, with 204 cruise liners bringing 307,043 passengers.
"We are very happy about the results of 2019, and in 2020 we expect 212 cruise liners with a capacity of 360,000 passengers, while in 2021 we already anticipate 250 cruise ships with a capacity of 497,000 passengers," Apollon Philippis, Heraklion Port Authority chairman and chief executive officer, told Xinhua.