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Barcelona Cruises: Balancing Business Opportunities & Environmental Concerns

Barcelona cruises: balancing business opportunities & environmental concerns

Barcelona Cruises: Balancing Business Opportunities & Environmental ConcernsSource: Port de Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain (PortSEurope) August 13, 2019 – Last week, the Italian government decided to limit cruise ships from passing by Giudecca and San Marco, a move aimed at the largest vessels.

This was a response to long-term complaints from residents of the city regarding the damaged caused to the city by large cruise ships.

Locals consider that the cruise ships are bringing too many tourists to the port, an UNESCO heritage site, which is damaging local businesses and ruining the character of the city. Environmentalists have long claimed that waves caused by the cruise ships have damaged the underwater supports of buildings and polluted Venice waters.

Barcelona faces a similar challenge in terms of balancing the business opportunities provided by cruise industry and local environmental concerns, both on land and air pollution.

In 2018, cruise ships brought over 3 million tourists to Barcelona, making the city Europe’s biggest cruise destination. This brings revenue to the city, but the fact that many passengers eat and sleep on the vessels, mean that the city can be swamped by thousands of visitors which will walk around the city but spend little money. Local resident struggle to see how streets packed with visitors bring any benefit.

On the other hand, the industry highlight the business opportunities cruises generate since catering to the visitors they bring creates jobs, and tourists with deeper pockets may end up spending significant sums.

According to a 2016 University of Barcelona AQR-Lab study, the industry directly and indirectly employs 9,056 people and accounts for €206 million collected in taxes.

However, pollution is an issue also, particularly for residents. The European campaign group Transport & Environment released a study claiming that Barcelona is the European city most polluted by cruise ships. The report claims that in 2017 these vessels polluted almost five times more sulphur oxide than all the city’s vehicles, and toxic particles from cruises were found up to 400 km away from the port. Cruises accounted for 28.5% of Barcelona’s nitrogen oxide and 3.5% of the city’s particle pollution.

The EU is to take Spain to court over excessive air pollution levels – this may benefit supported of reduced pollution in the long term.

Part of the problem is that southern European countries, generally, have less stringent sulphur fuel regulations than northern European countries. and ships are permitted to pollute as much as they do because regulations are different on land and on sea.

Barcelona port is managed by Puertos del Estado is a state-owned company responsible for the management of state-owned ports.

As well, as Venice and Barcelona, many other ports share similar problems.

Earlier in August this year, the president of Autorita’ di Sistema Portuale del Mare Adriatico Settentrionale which manages Venice port, Pino Musolino, contacted other European ports to call for action in tackling the growing criticism and negative effects of the growing cruise industry in the Mediterranean.

“I have written to all European cities that share our experience with cruise tourism, and that find themselves having to balance economic development with environmental sustainability,” Pino Musolino, chairman of the northern Adriatic Sea port authority, said in letter to fellow ports.

Musolino calls for a meeting in the next few months to come up with proposals to balance sustainability and economic activities.

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