A personal point of view of the new challenges for small ports regarding the cruise industry.


In recent years and, as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the world for months, ports, as well as any company or public institution, were obliged to face some new challenges unknown until then. For small ports, such as the port of Ceuta, this situation was not different.

The port of Ceuta port is a modest port, but also it is modern, safe and adapted to the needs of this industry. For all these reasons, it is thought that the pandemic crisis could be an opportunity for us to become a reference port in this traffic in the Strait of Gibraltar area, where this type of tourism is very common. We were and we are aware that competitiveness is very strong in our geographical area with reference ports such as Cádiz, Málaga, Gibraltar, Tangier, etc., but we always believed in the idea that Ceuta could be a complementary port within these already established and consolidated itineraries.

After the pandemic, the cruise shipping companies began to look for different destinations and, after this period of break, this new situation was very well used by the vast majority of smaller ports that can offer a different point of view and which usually occupied a minor role within the regular routes. The idea, nowadays, is to count on more comfortable, less far from the city centers and more sustainable ports, and to call in those who offer different proposals and are situated in unknown places.  

On one hand, it was essential to adapt to new environmental requirements with the aim of becoming greener, more eco-friendly and more sustainable ports. The shipping companies put faith in sustainability too and, in a small port like Ceuta, we knew how to adapt to the new circumstances, and today we have environmental quality standards that show our commitment to environment, as well as our willingness to have, sooner rather than later, OPS, renewable fuels, etc.

On the other hand, the increase in cruise calls in small cities also represents the challenge of maintaining a high-quality cultural offer, conserving the cultural heritage and having the collaboration of the whole port community and the rest of the sectors involved. That is to say: public administration, tour operators, travel agents, tourism boards, etc.; since all this will allow the port and the destination to be placed in a much more privileged position.

Finally, we were fully aware of the important role our port and cruise tourism can play as a catalyst for the local economy. A small city, in which the border with the adjacent country, where a large part of the buyers came from, was closed for many months and, therefore, it is time to balance out this economic deficit with the arrival of this type of traffic.

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