Athens, 28 July 2022. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, welcomes the completion of sustainability destination assessments in the popular Greek cruise destinations of Corfu and Heraklion. The project, co-funded by CLIA in partnership with the two municipalities and port authorities, was conducted by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), using the GSTC Destination Criteria. The assessments will help the cities to identify key risks and set the foundation for an action plan for sustainable tourism.

“I want to congratulate the cities of Corfu and Heraklion for this initiative and for the successful completion of the destination assessments”, said Marie-Caroline Laurent, CLIA’s Director General in Europe. “We are pleased to partner with the cities as part of our commitment to responsible tourism”, added Marie-Caroline Laurent.

CLIA co-financed the sustainability assessments jointly with the two municipalities and port authorities, showing the industry’s commitment to taking an active role and directly supporting cruise destinations. “We are investing jointly in the success of cruise destinations. Cruise tourism brings significant social and economic benefits to communities, and we want to help destinations to manage tourism responsibly so that they remain great places to live and visit”, added Marie-Caroline Laurent.

Both cities were selected by CLIA for the GSTC assessments as two of the most popular Greek cruise destinations and homeports. Corfu ranks within the country’s top five cruise ports in terms of calls, while its Old Town is a world heritage site of UNESCO. Heraklion has considerably increased its popularity in recent years after taking a leading role for cruise resumption following its temporary pause.

The destinations’ authorities highlighted how the project would benefit their communities.

The Mayor of Central Corfu and Diapontia Islands, Mrs. Meropi Spyridoula Ydraiou, said: “Corfu is one of the top tourist destinations, not only in Greece but all over Europe, because it combines a unique natural and cultural environment. “As the majority of generated income comes from tourism, the Municipality is thankful to CLIA, and is encouraging and supporting the cooperation with GSTC in an effort to ensure the sustainability of tourism development in the destination on a long term basis. Such a perspective will ensure a better living environment and quality in services both to the locals as well as to the visitors and tourists. Our municipality has decided to invest in proper tourism planning and balanced growth for the next generations”.

Mr. Spiridon Zarvopoulos, CEO of the Port Authority of Corfu S.A., added: “The completion of the destination assessment of Corfu is the first step in our holistic plan on tourism management for Corfu and on sea tourism management in particular. The Port Authority of Corfu S.A. will lead the way in this field and will work closely with the local authorities. Many thanks to CLIA and GSTC for their choice”.

Mr. Giorgos Sisamakis, Deputy Mayor for Tourism of Heraklion, noted that “Heraklion is a multi-faceted destination, with a vibrant city, an inland hosting unique biodiversity, history and culture that go many centuries back in the past, but also with very important infrastructures that ensure the safety and the feeling of security for our visitors. We welcome thousands of visitors every year and our goal is to offer to all visitors high quality services that stand up to the standards of the « Cretan way of life », i.e. with respect to people and the environment. The sustainability of Heraklion as a tourism destination is the stake we are determined to win and we are lucky to have partnered with CLIA in this effort. We know that collaboration and synergies are the only way to implement our visions and we work methodically for Heraklion to become a sustainable, cultural, tourism destination”.

Mr. Minas Papadakis, CEO of the Port Authority of Heraklion S.A., added that “the completion of the destination assessment of Heraklion by GSTC is a huge success for our city and for our Port. It confirms the excellent performance of our destination so far and reinforces our strategic choice for sustainable tourism development of Heraklion”.

Dr. Ioannis Pappas, GSTC Director for the Mediterranean Region and Assessor for both Destinations, said that « the successful completion of both destinations assessment was based on the application of the GSTC methodology through the sustainable destinations criteria, with the input of all the stakeholders of tourism supply chain, focusing on the areas of management, economy and society, culture and environment, offering effective tools for a sustainable destination ».

CLIA supports the sustainability of cruise destinations through consistent collaboration with cities around the world. “Protection and sustainable development of the world’s favorite destinations is a priority for CLIA and members. We can only achieve this with a joint approach, working together with community and municipal leaders, port authorities and other important stakeholders”, highlighted Marie-Caroline Laurent.

CLIA and its members engage with cruise destinations in a variety of ways depending upon the circumstances of the locality. Cruise lines and municipalities have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the Balearic Islands and Dubrovnik to manage specific issues relating to each destination.

CLIA agreed last year to offer support to the first research and monitoring centre on sustainable tourism developed by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and established in Greece. CLIA and its members remain in regular dialogue with key destinations to understand the local challenges and cooperate on solutions. Other activities include helping to identify new cruise destinations as well as new and alternative tours in well-established destinations.