The Tourist Board at the 1st International Cruise Summit in Madrid

The Tourist Board at the 1st International Cruise Summit in MadridThe Málaga-Costa del Sol Tourist Board has attended the 1st International Cruise Summit in Madrid, organised by the specialist magazine “Cruise News” and held at the Meliá Avenida América. The event drew many keynote speakers.

The Summit comprised five sessions featuring lectures by cruise experts like the Director of the Association of Cruise Experts (ACE) and panels with representatives of cruise operators, ports, associations and consortiums, DMCs, online and offline travel agencies, and media.

The work sessions focused on various hot issues, like economic impact on and business opportunities in the cruise industry, the global situation of cruise travel destinations and the emergence of new destinations, or the relations between ports, cruise companies, and destinations. Day 2 was dedicated to the Cruise Marketing and Sales Forum for cruise operators and distribution networks.

The event drew top-level speakers and senior managers in the cruise industry. As to attendees, there were representatives of ports and destinations, and, to a lesser extent, travel agents.

Also at the Summit, “Cruise News” launched the project to create the Spanish Cruise Association (SCA) with the support of cruise companies and Turespaña. SCA would be an important step in the development of the Spanish cruise industry.

The Tourist Board’s goals for this event were being in direct contact with cruise executives, cementing national and international relations in the cruise industry, exploring business opportunities for Málaga and the Costa del Sol, discussing best practices to optimise the role of Málaga as a departure port, gathering information on distribution networks, and identifying co-marketing opportunities.

Likewise, we wanted to compare opinions on the role of Málaga in the creation of new itineraries, given its privileged location connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean and Southern Europe with Northern Africa.

On the whole, the Summit’s outcome was very positive. We were able to contact the leading cruise companies, specialist media, national and international ports, and incoming travel agencies. Other local organisations present in the event were Málaga Town Hall, Port of Málaga, Mijas Shopkeepers’ Association, and City Sightseeing.

We also took part in the questions sessions, stressing Málaga’s role in the Mediterranean cruise industry and our destination’s competitive advantages. This helped us identify new trends for the development of our travel offer and business opportunities for the Port of Marbella project.

After the event, we drew some conclusions. First of all, Málaga has a great potential, given its port and communications infrastructure (air, rail, and road connections). The development of Málaga-Costa del Sol in the cruise industry should be based on networking actions to open the right doors. This takes time and effort, for it is the result of personal relationships.

We need to make custom presentations of our port and travel destination for cruise operators, using our contacts to reach their headquarters. Also, if we want to tap the potential of pre- and post-cruise stays, we have to find the best distribution networks (especially those offering dynamic packaging) and engage in marketing cooperation once the operations of our departure port have been established.

Some cruise companies, e.g. MSC, are already offering multi-port combinations in their voyages. We must work on our offer to meet the requirements of cruise passengers. To this end, we could rely on expert advice from other European cities.

Málaga-Costa del Sol already offers a wide range of tours for cruise passengers and even when we could explore new, experience-based products, classical options are still the best choice to reach a minimum number of tourists, especially in the case of international cruises.

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