Cruise Companies seem to be “on board” with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ decision to restrict ships’ arrival to popular Greek islands come next season, in an effort to combat over-tourism.

Both Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the Union of Cruise Ship Owners and Maritime Agencies (EEKFN) expressed commitment to limiting the flow of tourists and have already cooperated with local port authorities and municipalities in regards to their ships arrivals on Santorini and Mykonos, the two islands most affected.

CLIA Regional Director to the Eastern Mediterranean Maria Deligianni stated that “Cruise companies are committed to cooperating with popular cruise destinations on issues of sustainable development and responsible tourism.”

To note, Santorini hosted 800 cruise ships with a total of 1,298,968 passengers in 2023, compared to 686 cruise ships with 826,602 passengers in 2022. Similarly, Mykonos welcomed 749 cruise ships and 1,192,822 passengers last year, a 23% and 74% increase, respectively, from 2022.

Efforts to regulate visitors have been previously introduced, but none have lasted long. Santorini port authorities, for instance, had implemented a 8,000 daily limit for cruise ship passengers in 2018, a regulation that has since been overturned, raising the quota to 9,800 visitors per day.

Despite cruise companies’ tolerance to the impending restrictions, they raise objection to the potential implementation of a “tourist tax”, arguing that such a fee cannot only apply to cruise ship passengers, but to the thousands of daily island visitors as well.

They also question the stance of other sectors involved in the cruising industry, such as travel agents, boatmen, port agents, etc. as any restriction by extent would lead to a decrease in their own revenues.

EEKFN President Giorgos Koubenas stated that, although companies understand the need for destination management, any measures the government considers to implement should be discussed with all industry stakeholders before final decisions are made.