Greece’s largest port, Piraeus, kicked off its expansion project on Tuesday, which will user in a "new era" for the port and cruise sector in Greece once it is completed.
According to the Piraeus Port Authority S.A. (PPA), the expansion project features two new berthing positions, aimed to better accommodate "new generation" cruise ships over 280 meters long.
"It is an important day for the Region of Attica, for the city and the port of Piraeus, the port we hold dear to our hearts. We set in motion one of the largest projects which have ever been materialised in the region," Regional Governor of Attica, Giorgos Patoulis said at the opening ceremony.
Budgeted at approximately 120 million euros, the expansion project features quays with a total length of 2,300 meters and depths varying from 19 to 28.50 meters, as well as a land area of approximately 153,000 square meters and networks of drainage, optical fibers, and supply of electricity and potable water.
In 2016, China's COSCO SHIPPING acquired a majority stake in PPA and has already started changing the port's outlook.
Greek Shipping and Island Policy Minister, Ioannis Plakiotakis said that Tuesday's ceremony marked the start of a new era for the port and cruise sector in Greece, which will also bring more revenues to the local economy.
"They (the investment projects) will upgrade and strengthen the Piraeus port's competitiveness. Piraeus deserves to be the first port in southeastern Mediterranean, and we are determined to bring it to this rank cooperating with PPA's administration," Plakiotakis told press agency Xinhua.
According to the latest statistics, in recent years more than 26 million cruise passengers travel across the Mediterranean annually. With this data, the minister added, he wants Greece to see more than 1.1 million visitors reaching Piraeus every year.
Echoing the minister, PPA Chairman Yu Zenggang stated that "Piraeus cruise terminal expansion project...will profoundly improve the stature of the port of Piraeus as home port for Mediterranean cruises and promote Greek tourism industry. I believe the future of Piraeus port will be very bright."
The expansion project is timetabled to be completed in 32 months (2.6 years).