Slight increase in number of seaborne passengers in EU
The slight overall increase in the number of seaborne passengers over the last two years might be an indication that the decline in the number of seaborne passengers observed from 2009 to 2012 has come to an end.
Unlike goods movements, where broadly 60% of goods are unloaded and 40% loaded in the European ports, the difference between the number of passengers embarking and disembarking in European ports is normally small.
This reflects the fact that seaborne passenger transport in Europe is mainly carried by national or intra-EU ferry services, with the same passengers being counted twice in the statistics (once when they embark the ferry in one port and once when they disembark in another).
Greece recorded a rise of 3.4% in the number of seaborne passengers passing through its ports in 2014, overtaking Italy as the major seaborne passenger transport country in Europe.
With 75 million and 72 million seaborne passengers in 2014, respectively, Greek and Italian ports handled a combined share of 37% of the total number of passengers embarking and disembarking in EU ports in 2014, followed by Danish ports with 10% of the EU seaborne passengers (41 million passengers).
The top 20 passenger ports accounted for 38% of the total number of passengers embarking and disembarking in the reporting countries in 2014, about the same as in 2013.
The port of Dover in the United Kingdom consolidated its position as the largest passenger port in the EU with a 3.7% increase in the number of seaborne passengers from 2013 to 2014.
The ports of Algeciras in Spain and Stockholm in Sweden recorded the largest relative increases in the number of passengers in 2014 (both close to +12%), while the Italian ports of Reggio di Calabria and Capri recorded the largest decreases (-8.5% and -6.7%, respectively).
Cruise passengers made up only 2.8% of the total number of seaborne passengers embarking and disembarking in EU ports in 2014. However, these passengers play an important role in the ports and countries where this traffic is concentrated.
Close to 80% of the total number of cruise passengers embarking and disembarking in European ports in 2014 did so in the ports of one of the four countries Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany. Cruise passengers on day excursions in EU ports are not included in these figures.
These sudden drops are typically caused by structural changes, such as openings of new bridge or tunnel connections and subsequent closure of ferry links. The rapid growth in low cost flights in recent years might be another cause behind the declining trend in the number of seaborne passengers over time. ■