In pursuit of green tourism in the BSR

Apr 08 2020

In pursuit of green tourism in the BSR

Without any doubt, the cruise sector is facing one of its direst moments, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world. Despite this difficult situation, cruise industry stakeholders keep looking to the future and working on ideas that will help it move forward once the crisis has been dealt with.

COWI, a Danish consulting company, recently published the report titled “Towards Sustainable Cruise Tourism in the Greater Baltic Sea Region”. It touches upon the importance of on-shore power supply (OPS) solutions for achieving greener cruise tourism in the region.

The document comes on the heels of an effort by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, to place the issue of sustainable cruise tourism on the agenda of the Danish Presidency of The Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) in order to turn the Greater Baltic Region into Europe’s greenest cruise destination.

This move, in turn, led to the recognition, that there is a need for a catalogue of initiatives that can attract greener cruise vessels to the Nordics and the Baltic Sea, thus propelling the development of necessary OPS facilities in the ports of the Baltic Sea region (BSR).

Apart from an overview of the various green initiatives supporting and encouraging greener cruise ships in the region, the report also offers an analysis of instruments and tools able to promote the industry taking a turn towards a more environmentally sound direction. One of such tools is the aforementioned development of shore power infrastructure. Benefits of OPS are widely recognized by the maritime community, including significant reduction of NOx, SOx and particle emissions, as well as noise pollution.

While the ability to connect to shore power is fairly widespread among ports in the Greater Baltic Region (e.g. Trelleborg, Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki, Gothenburg, Kristiansand and many others), only Norway adopted a strategy on national level, aiming to implement the solution on a broader scale, targeting the cruise sector. According to the report, Germany seems to be just a step behind.

The challenge, especially for smaller ports, lies in finding the necessary funding. OPS implementation is a very costly process, and the decision to make the investment needs to be backed up by sound economic feasibility. It is often the question of “who pays what?”, that poses a difficult obstacle, with both ports and vessel operators, and sometimes port cities, expect each other to carry the brunt of financing.

Possible actions, supporting OPS development and usage, presented in the report, include higher engagement from the side of mayors and city councils, working together with port authorities and rising awareness of the benefits of the technology. Rewarding shore power-ready ships by offering them berths with most attractive locations or sharing investment costs with other users (e.g. ferry operators, power plants, industries) are another option.

Last but not least, industry organizations can act as vital liaisons for the dialogue between governments and ports. The Baltic Ports Organization encourages taking this route and is ready to share its expertise and support the coming together of parties interested in such initiatives. After all, most ambitious and challenging tasks become much easier to accomplish when working together.

The report can be accessed under the following link.