The European Statistical Office (Eurostat) has revealed in its latest report that due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions that were kept in place to avoid the further spread of the virus, the number of seaborne passengers almost halved in 2020 compared to the pre-pandemic period, in 2019.
The number of passengers passing through ports of the European Union reached a low point of 230.6 million in 2020, which represents a decrease of 44.9 per cent compared to 2019, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“All quarters of 2020 were substantially impacted with -14.0 per cent in the first quarter when comparing to the same quarter of 2019, -69.3 per cent in the second quarter, -35.7 per cent in the third quarter and -46.8 per cent in the fourth quarter,” the statement of Eurostat reads.
Differently from movements of goods, where roughly 60 per cent of goods are unloaded and 40 per cent loaded in the ports of the EU, the difference between those who disembarked and embarked in EU ports was generally small.
According to Eurostat, this reflects the fact that maritime passenger transport in Europe is mainly carried by national ferry services, with each passenger being counted twice in the port throughput statistics.
The Italian and the Greek ports accounted for a combined share of 42 per cent of the total number of passengers who embarked and disembarked in ports of EU, with 55.1 million and 40.9 million seaborne passengers respectively.
As a result, Italy and Greece have remained the leading countries in terms of seaborne passenger transport within the EU.
The two countries were followed by Denmark with 30.9 million passengers who embarked and disembarked in 2019, Croatia with 18.8 million passengers, Germany with 16.4 million passengers, Sweden with 14.9 million, and France with 10.4 million.
In addition, through the same report, it has been revealed that due to the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place worldwide, several countries have registered a significant decline in the number of passengers passing through their ports.
The largest decrease was registered by Slovenia (-99.5 per cent), which counted only 119 passengers in 2020. Montenegro also registered a decrease of 99.5 per cent, with only 428 passengers in 2020. Belgium and Cyprus also registered a decline of more than 90 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.
As for the other EU Member States, seven of them recorded a decline of more than 50 per cent over the same period.
Conversely, among all reporting countries, Bulgaria and Lithuania registered the lowest declines, with -26.4 per cent and -10.0 per cent, respectively.