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Skip Navigation · Home · Spanish ports exceeded 9.2 million cruise goers in 2017
Spanish ports exceeded 9.2 million cruise goers in 2017

The "Ports of Spain" stand will bring together thirty Spanish ports and companies at Seatrade Cruise Global in Fort Lauderdale

Spanish ports exceeded 9.2 million cruise goers in 2017


  • The government will continue to implement measures to favor cruise tourism
  • With a turnover of €1.255 billion and 26,500 employees generated, a great commitment to the Spanish cruise industry


March 2, 2018 (Spanish Ministry of Public Works and Transport). Puertos del Estado deploys again this year its blue carpet to present the wide and varied offer of possibilities for tourism and promotion of Spanish ports and cities for this sector at the world's leading cruise fair, Seatrade Cruise Global, held in Fort Lauderdale (USA). Thus, the stand of "Ports of Spain" will count with a broad representation of Port Authorities and companies which will promote destinations, services and products.


Spain has achieved, thanks to the firm commitment of the Government, in parallel to the activities of other Administrations as well as through private initiative, a privileged position in this sector's context worldwide, for the first time in its history exceeding 9.2 million visitors on cruise ships. Furthermore, Spain is the second European power in number of cruise passengers, and several Spanish ports lead the European ranking and are even listed among the world's top 50 ports, as is the case of the ports of Barcelona, the Balearic and Canary Islands, Malaga, Valencia, Cadiz, Cartagena and Vigo.


In the last 25 years, the volume of cruise passengers has multiplied by 18, passing from just over 480,000 visitors in 1992, to the aforementioned 9.2 million in 2017.


Just 5 years ago, the "Blue Carpet" campaign was launched, a hallmark seal of Puertos del Estado with a highly consolidated image, under the slogan "Blue Carpet: Step into Spain through world class ports", perceived abroad with great success and with the support of Spanish Port Authorities, institutions and companies, with the goal of consolidating and increasing its presence overseas.


This way, the global image of Spain and its industry has assumed a decisive position at our ports, with the idea of communicating to those tourists who visit us from any Spanish port, that a "Blue Carpet" rolls out from our ports, extending to inland towns and cities.




Spain's potential as a tourist destination is reflect in cruise tourism, and specifically in the most highly-requested destinations of our visitors from abroad, in other words, the Mediterranean and the Islands. Thus, of the 9.27 million cruise passengers who arrived to a Spanish port in 2017, over 8.3 million people did so at ports of the Mediterranean coast or the Balearic and Canary Islands. It's no wonder that since a few years ago, the ports of Barcelona or the Balearic Islands head the rankings of Europe's most-visited ports, and are on the same level as the world's elite, positioned among the world's 10 most­preferred destinations.


Likewise, the average of the ports on the Atlantic continues to increase, though more modestly (+2.3%), with data worth highlighting for some of them, like A Coruña, which with over 184,000 passengers, grew 45%.


However, the experts agree that our country still has a major potential for growth. Therefore, factors like deseasonalization, diversification of destinations, consolidating our ports for embarking/disembarking, together with dropping costs for both air and sea transport, have resulted in the affordability of cruises for a large segment of the population, with highly competitive prices and a magnificent offer. According to forecasts of the Port Authorities, cruise traffic will continue to grow in upcoming years at a pace of between 1.5-3%, and could exceed 9.5 million cruise goers in 2020.




The relevance of ports and cruise tourism as a driving force for Spain's economic activity is indisputable. The contribution of the cruise industry is of great importance for our economy, as the volume of business generated in Spain is worth over €1.255 billion euros; generates employment (direct, indirect and induced) to over 26,400 people and accounting for 10.9% of the GDP for the domestic tourism industry. In addition, cruise tourism also promotes other regions of the country, including inland tourism.


Both Puertos del Estado and the Spanish Ministry of Public Works and Transport have favored the sector as much as possible. Through the National Budget, they have reduced port-related costs for the use of infrastructures; lowered the basic tax amount for port use by 5% and the occupancy tax by 8.5%, to increase competitiveness, and extended concession periods to a maximum of 50 years to boost private investment. As well, they have reduced the ship tax by 50% to promote the reduction of cruise ship emissions, whether propelled by natural liquid gas or connected to electricity at the port. These measures have enabled the reduction of port costs and encouraged shipowners and operators to increase their presence in our ports.


In 2018, the application of a special tax treatment for cruises will continue, with a 70% reduction of the basic amount for ship taxes, and an additional reduction of 56% of the amount resulting of applying the 70% reduction for base ports. Likewise, loyalty in the use of port facilities will be object of tax relief for base ports, applying reductions when a given company uses the base port as a port of call a minimum of 12 times. As regards the passenger fee, those passengers on a tourist cruise in transit present a reduction of the basic amount of the applicable fee by 0.75.




The port system investments in passenger facilities for the
2000-2016 period amounted to €282.7 billion, and an investment of another €285 million is expected for the 2017-2021 period. To these investments we must also add those allocated and destined for improvements of Port-City relations, which amounted to €240.4 billion between 2000-2016, and another €61.77 million allocated for 2017-2021.


Theses investments evidence the possibility and desirability of making compatible the regular flow of passengers with the wellbeing of citizens. The functions and competencies assumed by City Councils enables these to promote and contribute to satisfying the needs and aspirations of residents and visitors alike. Supporting cruise tourism and nautical sports is a commitment to cities and to a different kind of tourism that is environmentally-friendly and values our culture. Beyond this, it also represents a commitment to a sector of the economy that generates employment and business activities at ports and in cities which harbor these.

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