The coronavirus outbreak is already having a negative effect on travel, airlines and hotel reservations around the world. And one of the travel industries that has been hit the hardest is the cruise business. At the end of the month, the first cruise ship from Venice was due to arrive in Dubrovnik. However, since the Italian authorities today, in an attempt to curb the rapid spread of coronaviruses, have declared a quarantine for the large area of northern Italy with 16 million inhabitants, including Venice, until the 3rd of April this first cruise ship and indeed subsequent cruise ship arrivals from Venice are hanging in the balance.
This news has greatly upset business in Dubrovnik since the vast majority of them live directly or indirectly from tourism, and a reduction of cruise ship passengers could put businesses at risk.
The Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, has announced that next week a series of meetings on the new situation in Italy, which will cause financial effects not only in Dubrovnik but also in the wider area, will place. “In my estimation, there will be a serious market disruption. As things stand now, I don't think Venice cruisers will sail at all, but we are waiting for the official confirmation of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a group that brings together all the world's key cruise ship organizers,” commented Mayor Frankovic.
Distruptions probable for cruise ship business in Dubrovnik
12 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Croatia, five in Rijeka, three in the capital Zagreb and four in Varaždin. All of these cases are in northern Croatian cities and all of the cases have a direct link to Italy.
Italy is the worst effected European country with over 5,880 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 230 deaths. And today 16 million people in northern Italy are in quarantine after Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, signed a decree which will put most of the country's north under lockdown.
And as the Italian lockdown states that anyone will be barred from entering or leaving the region except for “undeferrable work needs or emergency situations,” until the 3rd of April it seems clear that the start of the cruise ship season to Dubrovnik will be heavily disrupted. And the Italian lockdown only adds to the overall crisis in the cruise ship industry due to the coronavirus.
Dubrovnik cruise industry is extremely closely linked with Venice. The Italian port is around a day’s sailing from Dubrovnik, meaning that almost every cruise line that operates in Dubrovnik either starts or ends its journey in Venice. And the longer the ban on travel from Venice and northern Italy the harder the cruising business in Dubrovnik will be hit.