Passenger traffic and number of ship calls up 11% and 8% respectively in Passenger Port of St. Petersburg
On October 17, with the departure of the AIDAbella cruise ship of AIDA Cruises, Passenger Port of St. Petersburg completed 2018 navigation. During the 2018 navigation period, Passenger Port of St. Petersburg hosted 270 cruise liners that brought aboard a total of 623,166 passengers to St. Petersburg. The 2018 cruise season was solemnly opened on April 27 with a symbolic watch bell ring performed by Alexander Nikolaevich Golovin, Chairman of the Transport Committee, upon the arrival of the Viking Sea cruise ship owned by Viking Ocean Cruises, a Norwegian cruise company, at the port.
By navigation completion results, compared with 2017 indicators, passenger traffic and the number of ship entries increased by 11% and 8%, respectively in Passenger Port of St. Petersburg.
Based on the established 2019 ship entry schedule, passenger traffic is also expected to increase up to 625,000 passengers next year, despite a smaller number of ship entries (from 270 in 2018 to 262 in 2019), which is explained by the global trend of constantly-increasing ship dimensions.
These results are primarily related to the fact that in recent years, the northern capital has achieved great success in improving its image as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. St. Petersburg is a three-time winner of World Travel Awards, the main international award in tourism. This year, St. Petersburg has taken the lead in two more nominations, becoming the best cruise and cultural tourist destination in Europe. St. Petersburg had to compete with such cities as Amsterdam, Cannes, Venice, London, Paris and Barcelona. In addition, for the third consecutive year St. Petersburg has become the best destination for the Baltic and Scandinavia according to Cruise Critic, the largest cruise portal.
Moreover this year, St. Petersburg has received recognition of 2018 Travelers' Choice Awards, and the St. Petersburg Administration's Tourism Development Committee for the first time ever appeared on the list of finalists in the “2018 Europe's Leading City Tourist Board” nomination.
In 2018, the port hosted the International Cruise Europe Conference that was first held in Russia. The organizer of the conference was the St. Petersburg Tourism Development Committee and Passenger Port of St. Petersburg. The Conference participants represented by Cruise Europe member ports and senior managers of cruise lines touched upon important issues regarding options for providing assistance to small and medium-sized ships to diversify cruise routes, discussed specifics of creating shore excursion itineraries, main problems of port cities in working up new tourist products, as well as cruise development issues in the Asian region. A conference of this scale, with more than 120 participants from 30 countries, was held in St. Petersburg for the first time.
2018 was marked by active participation of port representatives in trade show activities. Passenger Port of St. Petersburg was presented at Seatrade Cruise Med 2018, the largest international cruise show held in Lisbon. This year, organizers have announced 2,600 cruise industry professionals, 160 exhibitors, 60 participating countries and 30 cruise lines. As part of the international trade show, a number of business meetings took place between senior managers of Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg "Marine Façade" PLC and representatives of leading cruise companies and associations, such as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises, CLIA Europe, Cruise Europe, as well as with representatives of the Pioneer Marine Terminal in Kaliningrad, during which parties discussed prospects for further fruitful cooperation and development of the cruise industry in the Baltic Sea region and in St. Petersburg, in particular.
Representatives of Passenger Port of St. Petersburg also took part in the INWETEX 2018 trade show at the booth of the northern capital organized by the St. Petersburg Trade Show and Convention Bureau. In total, commercial companies from 23 regions of Russia and 13 countries of the world took part in INWETEX 2018.
In 2018, eight ships first entered Passenger Port of St. Petersburg, including the MSC Meraviglia, the largest and most innovative cruise liner built by MSC Cruises, a European cruise company. The 315-meter long ship can accommodate 5,700 passengers aboard, which is almost comparable to a town. Besides, for the first time, the port was visited by the MSC Preziosa, the Norwegian Breakaway, the Morella Discovery, the Viking Sun and the Sapphire Princess, including the newest liners - the Mein Schiff 1 NEW and the Seabourn Ovation ultra-luxury vessel.
The number of maximum-load days, when the port simultaneously hosted from 5 to 7 vessels, amounted to 46, which is by 31.4% more than the last year’s navigation.
On June 30, 2018, a new record for the number of passengers received per day was set in Passenger Port of St. Petersburg. 18,198 cruise tourists (compared with the 2017 record of 17,911) disembarked from six cruise ships, namely the Norwegian Breakaway, the Marina, the Mein Schiff 1 NEW, the Britannia, the Zuiderdam and the Regal Princess. This exceeds the estimated maximum throughput capacity of the port, but thanks to a time-slot system introduced this year, disruptions in itineraries of tour operators and negative impression of cruise ship passengers that occurred after visiting St. Petersburg have been eliminated. Between May and September 2018, the throughput capacity limit was reached twice.
According to preliminary results, this year, US citizens have begun to account for a significant share among other arriving cruise tourists, in fact, showing performance equal to that of tourists from Germany. Thus, tourists from the United States and Germany accounted for 25% each, and those from the United Kingdom accounted for 14% of the total number of tourists.
Besides, in 2018, 15,054 so-called unique passengers, who started or ended a cruise in St. Petersburg have passed through the port (7,714 passengers arrived and 7,340 passengers departed).
This year, Passenger Port of St. Petersburg has celebrated an important event - 10 years of the port operation. Since the launch of the port operation back in 2008, the cruise passenger traffic in St. Petersburg has more than doubled. In total, over 10 years of work, more than 2.5 thousand ship entries occurred, and the total passenger traffic exceeded 4.6 million people. The port has contracts with the world's leading cruise companies, including Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises, Mediterranean Shipping Company and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
This year, there are 228 ongoing contracts on the main activities of the enterprise, including 142 contracts with tour operators, among which there are 27 new companies.
It is also worth mentioning that Passenger Port of St. Petersburg continues to address the issue of year-round loading of port facilities that includes the implementation of a number of projects. Year-round loading will allow to achieve target indicators for the development of the cruise and ferry service in St. Petersburg, and will contribute to increase efficiency of external transport links in accordance with the Transport Strategy of St. Petersburg until 2025 approved by Resolution No. 945 dd. 13.07.2011 of the Government of St. Petersburg.
In order to establish a year-round water service with an opportunity to use the infrastructure of the Marine Terminal and the Checkpoint for carrying out operations related to accepting freight vehicles, the Port has launched a reconstruction project of a marine passenger-and-freight permanent multilateral checkpoint through the Russian Federation border in Passenger Port of St. Petersburg (hereinafter referred to as the Checkpoint). The arrangement of the year-round passenger-and-freight ferry service is the main reserve for the growth of the total passenger traffic of the port, and will create necessary conditions for attracting ferry lines, whose efficiency directly depends on the freight component.
The Checkpoint reconstruction project will increase the passenger traffic, establish a regular ferry service and expand geography of routes. Passenger Port of St. Petersburg carries out infrastructure development projects aimed at an increase in marine traffic with Finland. Thanks to active work with foreign partners, Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg "Marine Façade" PLC has concluded a cooperation contract with the port of Kotka as part of the 2014-2020 Russia-Southeast Finland Cross-Border Cooperation Program. In May 2018, Esa Sirvie, the Mayor of Kotka, paid an official visit to Passenger Port of St. Petersburg. A contract was also signed with the port of Turku to open a new chapter in relations of the parties based on principles of partnership and mutually beneficial cooperation.
According to the approved 2017–2021 plan for production and financial-and-economic activities of Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg "Marine Façade" PLC (hereinafter referred to as the Plan), the total investment in the Checkpoint reconstruction project will amount to approximately 460 mln RUB. In August 2018, the European Commission took a positive decision with the approval of the full application form and the conclusion of a grand contract for the 2014-2020 Russia-Southeast Finland Cross-Border Cooperation Program, amounting to 2.56 mln EUR.
In addition to year-round loading, Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg "Marine Façade" PLC is currently working on a project on the use of port infrastructure to start and to end Baltic cruises in St. Petersburg. As a result, tourists will be able to arrive at the city by various means of transport with follow-up embarkation of a cruise ship, using a simplified visa regime. At present, Passenger Port of St. Petersburg is a transit port. The average stay of a cruise tourist in St. Petersburg lasts 2 days. In case of cruises from St. Petersburg, the stay in the city will increase by 2 days (3 days before the cruise and 1 day after). According to experts, one tourist spends about 100 EUR per day in the city. Based on this and in accordance with the multiplier effect calculation method, the annual additional income of St. Petersburg can reach 170 mln EUR (about 13 bln RUB), or about 200 mln EUR (about 15 bln RUB) considering the attraction of extra passenger traffic.
In July, representatives of Royal Caribbean International visited Passenger Port of St. Petersburg. The main issues to be discussed at the meeting were prospects for berthing new passenger ships of large dimensions in Passenger Port of St. Petersburg, including vessels using liquefied natural gas, conditions for implementing a project to create a port on the basis of Passenger Port of St. Petersburg to start and to end cruises, as well as options for the use of the adjacent territory as part of the development of the Center for International Cruise Tourism in St. Petersburg.
Taking into account the global trend to increase ship dimensions and the passenger capacity, Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg "Marine Façade" PLC launched a project to reconstruct berth No. 7 of Passenger Port of St. Petersburg with the erection of outboard bollards, which will increase the berth space by 108 meters and will allow to simultaneously berth two ship of 333 m long at berths No. 6 and No. 7. The project investment totals 217 mln RUB.
A project to establish a marine passenger shipping company implemented as part of the approved 2017-2021 plan of Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg "Marine Façade" PLC will also facilitate the solution of tasks of the year-round use of the port infrastructure, as well as an additional increase in cruise passenger traffic, including citizens of the Russian Federation, departing for a cruise on the Baltic and North Seas from St. Petersburg. The project is implemented as part of instructions of the President of the Russian Federation based on results of the meeting of the State Council Executive Committee on the development of inbound tourism held on August 17, 2015 aimed at the development of domestic and inbound tourism.
At present, the Government of St. Petersburg, jointly with Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg "Marine Façade" PLC, develops a concept of establishing a Free Port in St. Petersburg. Facilities of Passenger Port of St. Petersburg with adjacent land plots, the Marine Terminal with a land plot (1 Sea Glory Square) and terminals on Lieutenant Schmidt Emb. and English Emb. are planned to be included in port areas.
Regarding areas adjacent to the port, it is worth mentioning that in July 2018 a solemn ceremony was held to open a foundation stone at the site of future Krusenstern Avenue. A few years ago, Passenger Port of Saint Petersburg "Marine Façade" PLC addressed the Toponymic Commission with the initiative of assigning the name of Krusenstern Avenue to an unnamed passage that runs along the territory of Passenger Port of St. Petersburg, which was approved by the Authorities of Vasilievsky Island in 2016. The avenue with a renowned historical name will soon embellish the actively developing marine part of Vasilievsky Island adjacent to the port.
In addition to its main activity, throughout the entire 2018 cruise navigation, the port actively participated in the educational and social life of St. Petersburg, organizing and taking excursions for residents of the city, veterans, schoolchildren and students (both Russian and foreign). Participation in sports projects is one of the priorities of the port. Nautical Mile, the traditional annual sports festival held by Passenger Port of St. Petersburg for the seventh time, is one of major events. The event brought together representatives of general education and youth sports schools, students of higher educational institutions of St. Petersburg, representatives of companies in the marine industry and sports organizations. The festival of sports and healthy lifestyle has been traditionally held by Passenger Port of St. Petersburg with the assistance of the Committee on Physical Culture and Sports of St. Petersburg and the Authorities of Vasilievsky District. Together with partners of Passenger Port of St. Petersburg, a prize pool was established, and commemorative cups and medals were awarded. Thanks to the joint work, the port received a large number of positive feedbacks. In future, it plans to bring the competition to an international level.
Next year, Passenger Port plans to host 10 new ships: the Viking Jupiter, the Nieuw Statendam, the Marella Explorer, the Norwegian Pearl, the AIDAprima, the Explorer of the Seas, the Celebrity Reflection, the Vasco Da Gama, the Norwegian Spirit and the Spirit of Discovery.