ICOMIA WORLD MARINAS CONFERENCE DAY 1 DEEMED GREAT SUCCESS

ICOMIA WORLD MARINAS CONFERENCE DAY 1 DEEMED GREAT SUCCESS

Dubai, UAE, 12th October 2021: The first day of the ICOMIA World Marinas Conference started with great success and enthusiasm. Marina investors, operators, and industry players gathered in Dubai for a three-day journey debating and envisioning the future of the industry. Under the theme of “Marinas empowering tourism and economies”, the day started with a warm welcome from the local host, the Leisure Marine Association MENA, as well as the ICOMIA representatives, Dubai Tourism, and the Lead Sponsor.

Welcome remarks were given by the local authorities and key operators. In alignment with the topic of the conference, Mr. Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Tourism, stressed the importance of the nautical industry in empowering tourism and lifestyle and confirmed the full commitment of the Dubai Government in the implementation of a long-term strategy, which envisages the promotion of Dubai as a boating and yachting destination. Mr. Hamza Mustafa, Chief Operating Officer of P&O Marinas, Lead Sponsor of the conference, confirmed the importance of supporting conferences that aim to discuss and develop the recreational marine industry, and to facilitate the growth of the leisure marine industry. He also stated that people of the Arabian Gulf have a long, traditional link to the sea and that the past 50 years have seen a rapid rise in luxury yachting and the marine leisure culture has taken root across the region. Therefore, the UAE leads with its vibrant marinas and a growing number of yachting enthusiasts.

After the welcome remarks, the first session was focused on the “Vision of a Marina”. Alessandra Priante gave remotely a magnificent speech on how post-pandemic sustainability must be the central role that marinas play in maritime tourism destinations. Following that was the speech by Holly Manvell, a young sailor representing a new generation of boaters with different interests and a new vision for the industry. Together with the impact triggered by the pandemic, the industry is facing colossal shifts if it wants to meet its sustainability commitments, required by expected legislation and matching the needs of a generation that have conservation values in their mind. Patricia Casewell, a very experienced superyacht captain, gave her perspective on how a superyacht facility should be a more and more demanding segment of the market, both accommodating owners and crews.

The business opportunity of investing in a marina was the central subject of session number two on day 1. Having a real estate project as a central profit center of a marina was covered by Fadi Shaher El Borno with his view of real estate-based marina development. But marinas can also be a great way of rehabilitating, transforming, and creating new centers of attraction to old commercial ports that have no longer been in use. Hamza Mustafa showed us great examples of how new leisure destinations can be created out of these transformations. After these two fantastic presentations followed a talk about handling the expectations of various stakeholders by being inclusive of their interests and demands, such as from investors, authorities, users, and the public, where Alberto Sonino shared how an investor decides to go ahead with his dream. Then the presentation by Billy Canellas focused on how to transform the waterfront into spaces of recreation and value-added, while managing investment certainty and attraction, and delivered within timeframes reasonable with expectations. The discussions also highlighted the potential strain the marina industry is facing with boat manufacturing at capacity and how to engage new boaters and increase berthing demands.

The last session of the day was centered on the main topic of the conference. Industry leaders from established destinations talked about successful ways to develop marinas in the Mediterranean, Australia, and Saudi Arabia. Roberto Perocchio covered the Mediterranean, Farrokh Golchin – Australia, and Richard Haws - Saudi Arabia. This was followed by a great speech from Daniel Schaffer about Sustainable Marine Tourism by taking a comprehensive approach towards climate change, protecting biodiversity and reducing pollution while simultaneously engaging with local communities, and helping to positively shape the image of the industry. The session ended with an insightful presentation by the sailing enthusiast Andrew Pindar, explaining how yacht clubs and watersports can drive lifestyle and tourism in marinas.

The day ended with a glamour reception at the Bulgari Yacht Club which provided a great opportunity for delegates and speakers to network.

The second day of the ICOMIA World Marinas Conference will be a full day touring around the local marinas, which will provide great insights and plenty of opportunities for networking. Marinas to be visited include the Dubai Marina Yacht Club, Dubai Harbour, Palm Jumeirah, and Mina Rashid. 

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