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Top EU passenger ports Top EU passenger ports

EU Ports Still Recovering from Pandemic Disruptions

Following a significant 45 percent fall in the number of passengers embarking and disembarking in EU ports in 2020 (compared with 2019), 2021 was more positive, with data showing a partial recovery. 

Compared with 2020, the number of passengers increased by 16 percent, reaching 267.9 million passengers from 230 million in 2020. This is still considerably below the levels observed before the pandemic (-36 percent in 2021 compared with 2019) when EU ports registered 418 million passengers. 

This information comes from data on maritime transport recently published by Eurostat. This article presents a handful of findings from the more detailed Statistics Explained articles on maritime passenger statistics and maritime freight and vessel statistics.  

The port of Messina in Italy remained the largest EU passenger port in 2021, with 8.3 million passengers. This port was followed by Reggio Di Calabria in Italy (8.1 million passengers) and by three ports in Greece: Piraeus, Paloukia Salaminas and Perama (each recording 5.9 million passengers).

In 2021, the top 20 passenger ports accounted for more than 34 percent of the total number of passengers embarked and disembarked in the reporting EU Member States. All ports of the top 20 saw passenger traffic decrease substantially in 2021 compared with 2019, with the exception of two Italian ports: Piombino (+2 percet) and Isola d’Elba (+3 percent).