The Ports of Toulon Bay has welcomed its first cruise passengers in more than 18 months. According to a press release, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 2 docked at La Seyne Cruise Terminal on Sept. 16.
The Ports of Toulon Bay said that it was a very special day marking a “milestone in the history of the cruise activity in Toulon Bay.”
According to the press release, despite no commercial calls, the piers in Toulon Bay did not stay empty during the pandemic. The port and local community have kept on welcoming cruise ships for lay-up calls. At a rate of two to three ships berthed continuously since spring 2020, 15 calls have been accommodated in Toulon Bay, with a duration ranging from a few days to several months.
Despite a full halt in the reception of cruise passengers, the Ports of Toulon Bay said that it has also continued to refine its strategy of promoting the “slow” marketing positioning of Toulon as a cruise destination. Work has been undertaken to develop the offer ashore, particularly for independent passengers, favoring a “slow” destination positioning, that is, offering “slow-paced tourism, with low CO2 emissions, synonymous with in-depth discoveries, improved knowledge and cultural achievements.”
According to the Ports of Toulon Bay, this is “a choice that respects the territory,” and that also responds to the need of visitors to slow down the pace and enjoy slower times during their cruise.
Additionally, the port said, the launch of new social media accounts aims to develop the awareness of the international B2C target toward this positioning, linked to “authenticity,” “off the beaten track,” and “far from mass tourism,” translated into a new slogan “Toulon, out of the crowds, close to the people…”
The Ports of Toulon Bay said that the positioning and all the involved work seemed to be “well appreciated” by cruise companies as the schedules for 2022 are “promising” with an expected average of 90 calls from 16 different companies, bringing about 200 000 cruise guests (based on full capacity).
Moreover, the port said that this strategic turn seems to have a “real impact” on market segmentation in Toulon Bay as 84 percent of cruise calls scheduled in 2022 are expected from the premium and luxury segments.