Koper port welcomes millionth passenger
Eighteen years after opening its passenger terminal, the Koper port welcomed its millionth passenger on 19 September, Ms Alice Moore from Huston, Texas.
The lucky passenger arrived aboard the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship operated by the US company Royal Caribbean, which can accommodate almost 2,500 passengers.
To mark the occasion, the port operator Luka Koper and the city authorities held a welcome ceremony in the town's Praetorian Palace.
"I've only walked from the ship to here and I've seen so much beauty that I know I'll be back," Moore told the event.
One millionth passenger to the Koper port, Alice Moore, flanked by Luka Koper CEO Nevenka Kržan and Koper Mayor Aleš Bržan. Photo: Bojan Kralj/STA
Slovenia's sole maritime port has seen a record number of passengers this year. By the year's end, they expect to welcome some 80 cruise ships, carrying a total of around 120,000 passengers.
Due to the rising traffic, the port is planning to build a new passenger terminal building by the end of 2025.
The new facility will be "ecological, green and energy-neutral", Luka Koper CEO Nevenka Kržan said, adding that Luka Koper had no intention of becoming a home port for cruise chips.
Representatives of the local community and tourism agree that port activities should be developed but in line with the environment's capacities.
While some other cities have closed their doors to cruise ships, Koper Mayor Aleš Brežan said cruise liners were not seen as an obtrusive element in the city.
He said cruise guests currently did not put as much burden on the town and its traffic as some other tourism activities.
"If the number of cruise ships increased five-fold, it would be a different story, but for now one ship arrives to the port per day, and this is positive for us," Bržan said.
The Slovenian Tourist Board estimates that cruise tourism is a major multiplier of revenue, Karmen Novarlič, a representative of the organisation, told the Slovenian Press Agency.
"The new passenger terminal [...] will give tourism a new wind in the sails," she said.
Jadran Klinec, director of the Slovenian Maritime Administration, rejected the notion that cruise tourism caused excessive pollution, saying such ships were very clean and subject to strict control measures.