Buenos Aires: ‘We Listened to the Cruise Lines’

The Port of Buenos Aires is looking for a strong rebound in its cruise business, led by Port Administrator Gonzalo Mórtola, who has made it a key agenda item moving forward, combining efforts with the current administration in Argentina and the Ministry of Transport.

Mórtola hopes to once again hit the 500,000 passenger mark by 2021, a number last seen in the 2012-2013 cruise season.

“The difference from last year has been significant. Last year, we listened to the cruise lines. The cruise companies had a lot to say, and this year, things are much different,” said Mórtola.

“The message is we need to work with the cruise lines. We are there for them and we want to work together.”

Is there a single most important factor that helped turn the business around for Buenos Aires?

“It was many things,” Mórtola told Cruise Industry News. “It was six items. We lowered immigration costs from $22 to $14 per person, and for next season, it will go down to $10.”

The port also expanded docking requests up to four years in advance, as opposed to two, which had been the old system. In addition, related service costs have been reduced.

Port and terminal costs for cruise lines bringing more than 351,000 passengers per season have also been lowered, and the port has capped passenger traffic per day to offer a better experience. Furthermore, the port is adhering to World Health Organization standards on yellow fever vaccination for crew, thus reducing cruise line costs.

The new measures have attracted an AIDA ship back for next season, said Mórtola, after a four-year absence for the brand.

A long term strategic plan will be announced soon and is expected to include the modernization of the port to berth larger ships.

Mórtola is also leading regional initiatives, putting together an agreement with Chile, Urugauy and Argentina to help drive cruise calls. Brazil is next to join the alliance, Mórtola advised.

“We are going to work as a region,” he said. “Australia and New Zealand are working together as a region and its working, and we need to do that as well.”

Traditionally a seasonal market, there is potential to expand, as port costs have been further lowered for off-season calls in Buenos Aires.

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