PORTS PLUS: Shaping the future of maritime and tourism through sustainability and innovation in the Adriatic region

The aim of the PORTS PLUS project, which stands for “PrOmoting Resilient, Sustainable and Smart Transport and logistic activities in the South Adriatic Area”, is to validate and build upon the knowledge and content generated in the previous ITALME PORTS project. This will be accomplished by establishing a comprehensive pathway for capacity building through public workshops and seminars that focus on promoting green transport, responsibility, safety, and security in ports.

PORTS PLUS offers an opportunity to update and adopt the knowledge and content from the previous Project PORTS, while considering the significant challenges that the transport and logistics sectors have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the recent EU and international regulations calling for a new growth plan focused on transforming the EU into a carbon-neutral economy by 2050.

In the upcoming sections, we will be featuring selected presentations from the workshop that took place at Hotel Cattaro on April 27th, 2023. These presentations cover a variety of topics related to maritime and tourism, and we hope you find them informative and insightful.

Participants in the PORTS PLUS workshop. Source: ucg.ac.me

Dr. Maja Škurić, a technical associate at the Center for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Maritime Studies, provided insight into trends and future obstacles in the maritime sector. Her presentation covered topics such as global maritime transportation, women’s participation in maritime businesses, and critical trends shaping maritime traffic.

In today’s world, maritime and tourism are inherently interconnected, with both sectors playing a crucial role in developing the global economy. As a brief addition, our editorial reflects on the potential for responsible development in the maritime and tourism sectors, considering how these industries can shape our world while adapting to changes in the global context.

Trends in global maritime traffic

Despite being below pre-COVID-19 levels, maritime traffic trends suggest that international maritime trade is starting to recover in 2021, showing the maritime sector’s resilience and adaptability to changes in the global economy. The growth in 2021 is mainly driven by the increased demand for containerized cargo, emphasizing the significance of maritime transport in supplying global trade chains.

Furthermore, the upsurge in maritime traffic for gas and dry cargo transportation highlights the changes in energy transition and the potential for reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The decline in crude oil deliveries reflects changes in global energy consumption and the increasing demand for alternative, cleaner energy sources.

Dr. Maja Škurć, Faculty of the Maritime Studies, Kotor

These changes will significantly impact the maritime sector, requiring ships to adapt to new ecological fuel and technology requirements. To remain competitive, the maritime industry will continue to adjust to changes in the global economy, trade, and energy trends by investing in new technologies, energy sources, and innovative approaches to maritime traffic, all of which can contribute to the growth and development of the tourism sector.

Global growth of the maritime fleet

As Dr. Škurić points out, maritime traffic plays a vital role in the European economy, transporting 75% of the European Union’s external trade. The TEN-T network, which encompasses 335 ports, with almost three-quarters of the cargo transported through 84 key network ports, illustrates the efficiency and coordination of European maritime traffic.

Increasing port capacity and developing Short Sea Shipping can enhance Europe’s competitiveness in the global maritime traffic market and improve regional cooperation and integration. These efforts contribute to better connectivity between destinations, providing faster and more efficient transportation options for passengers, and facilitating movement within Europe.

Dr. Škurić highlights that the growth of the overall commercial fleet is historically moderate, which suggests that the maritime traffic sector may not be developing fast enough to meet the growing demand for tourism services.

However, when it comes to cruise tourism, despite the pandemic extension and “unprecedented disruptions in global logistics” affecting the industry through increased transportation costs and reduced passenger capacity, there is evidence of a positive shift in the cruise and passenger transportation segment.

“In March 2020, the entire global cruise fleet stopped operating due to the pandemic, with serious consequences for cruise companies, their crews, and management teams,” said Dr. Škurić.

“However, over the course of its more than 50 years of existence, the cruise sector has shown remarkable resilience, and we expect it to return to its 2019 levels by the end of 2023.”

The sector’s recovery is already boosting the growth of the tourism industry, creating new jobs, and driving up revenue for tourist destinations around the world.

Clean technologies and sustainable development

Maritime transport undeniably plays a crucial role in global tourism, connecting destinations around the world and providing the foundation for the development of various tourism segments. However, over the past few decades, the growth of the tourism industry and increased demand for eco-friendly tourism practices have led to an increased sensitivity to the impact of maritime activities on the environment.

Harmful gas emissions, water pollution, and overexploitation of resources pose severe challenges to the preservation of marine ecosystems and the ecology of tourist destinations.

Achieving ecosystem resilience. Source: Wikicommons

Shipping can become a driving force for “sustainable” tourism (one that involves conservation and restoration) through a series of innovations and the development of clean technologies in the following areas:

  • The use of alternative fuels,
  • Energy efficiency,
  • Wastewater treatment,
  • Waste management and recycling,
  • Reduction of noise and light pollution,
  • Protection of marine life.

The solutions are numerous, as is the strong resistance to their implementation due to logistical and economic considerations.

However, the benefits of green transition in the context of climate change are clear and unambiguous:

  • Replacing fossil fuels with cleaner sources of energy, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), biofuels, or hydrogen, can significantly reduce harmful emissions and contribute to the decarbonization of the maritime sector.
  • Improving the energy efficiency of ships through optimized hull designs, advanced materials, and the implementation of energy-efficient technologies can reduce energy consumption and harmful emissions.
  • The introduction of advanced wastewater treatment systems on board ships can realistically be expected to reduce sea pollution and contribute to the preservation of biodiversity and water quality in coastal areas.
  • Implementing efficient waste management systems and promoting recycling on ships can reduce negative impacts on the marine ecosystem.
  • By using technologies to reduce noise and light pollution, it is possible to improve the quality of life for marine animals and reduce negative impacts on the marine ecosystem.
  • Finally, by collaborating with environmental protection organizations and local communities to preserve and protect marine life, such as coral reefs, seagrass beds, and fish habitats, it is possible to contribute to the preservation of tourist destinations.

Examples of good practice

Although we are witnessing the evident negative impact in Boka Bay itself (with data on pollution, the impact of ballast water, and incidents in ports – are some of the topics covered in the workshop, which we will present shortly), there are still examples of good practice in the world that we could follow.

Image of the 2018 incident. Source: Bokanews

In recent years, numerous initiatives and projects have been launched to make the maritime industry a more responsible sector, and some examples of good practices include:

  • Development of so-called “eco-ports” that use renewable energy sources, manage waste and wastewater, and reduce pollution and noise;
  • Cruising companies investing in new technologies – many cruising companies are already investing in “clean” technologies, including the use of alternative fuels, wastewater treatment, and optimization of energy efficiency;
  • Collaboration with local communities and environmental protection – the maritime industry can contribute to preserving destinations through cooperation with local communities and environmental protection organizations.

Promotion of biodiversity and rehabilitation of ecological functions in ports through the use of complex artificial microstructures.

Source: www.encyclopedie-environnement.org


Shipping plays a crucial role in global tourism, connecting destinations around the world and providing the foundation for the development of various tourism segments.

However, as the tourism industry continues to grow and demand for environmentally-friendly tourism practices increases, it becomes increasingly important for shipping to adapt to new conservation and environmental protection challenges.

Therefore, promoting clean technologies, reducing pollution, and protecting the marine ecosystem become key factors in transforming shipping into a driver of responsible tourism.

Through the use of alternative fuels, energy efficiency, and wastewater treatment, shipping can significantly reduce its negative impact, making the recovery of maritime traffic, including the cruising industry, an opportunity to develop new tourism models.

In this regard, it is crucial to consider the trends shaping maritime transport, such as energy transition, decarbonization, digitalization, and changes in supply chains.

Overall, shipping has enormous potential to become a key part of responsible destination development through a focus on clean technologies and environmental protection. By promoting green innovations and collaborating with all stakeholders, shipping can overcome its current challenges and become a force for positive change in the tourism industry.

Throughout a series of articles, we will present the topics and works that were featured at the workshop in order to highlight best practices and innovative solutions.






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