Oct 26, 2021

Sara AnghelSara Anghel, President of NMMA Canada and also ICOMIA at the podium during the event in Dubai.

The ICOMIA World Marinas Conference 2021 (IWMC) held at The Address Dubai Marina saw the participation of key industry leaders, attracting over 200 delegates from 24 countries, making it a truly global event, despite the present Covid-19 travel restrictions. The event played a significant role in reuniting the marina industry, as well as equipping participants with the knowledge needed to embrace the challenges in the years ahead.

The second day of the conference featured a full-day tour around the local marinas, including Dubai Marina Yacht Club, Dubai Harbour, Palm Jumeirah, and Mina Rashid, which provided a great opportunity for networking, partnership building, and facilitated important discussions. The day ended with a fantastic Gala Dinner on Queen Elizabeth 2, hosted by P&O Marinas, during which ICOMIA Marinas Group Golden Cleat Awards were presented, for the first time, including the categories of Lifetime Dedication and Sustainability & Innovation. The newly created awards’ aim is to recognise and honor outstanding individuals who have demonstrated a true commitment to the global marina community throughout their careers. The winner of the Lifetime Dedication Award is Oscar Siches, while Lars Brandt received the Sustainability & Innovation Award.

Udo Kleinitz, Secretary General of ICOMIA said:

“It was an honour to include the Golden Cleat award ceremony in the World Marinas Conference Gala Dinner. Celebrating the commitment and leadership of two outstanding industry players is a unique way to unite the industry, and I am pleased and congratulate Oscar and Lars for their awards and achievement. My thanks go to our Marinas Group for proposing the award, and all those who submitted proposals.”

The first session of day 3 focused on “Greener and Sustainable Marinas”. From the example of the smart cities covered by Emmanuele Delarue to the circular economy advantages pointed by Kellie Covington, valuable insight was gained into what needs to be the future of the sector. Following that were great presentations by Christophe Saune and Michael De Jong on how to build resilience and sustainability of nautical tourism and marinas.

Change always comes with technical challenges and opportunities but determination and focus can overcome any obstacles. During session two of the last day, Idan Cohen showed how technology and digital transformation can better connect marinas and their clients. Then Kevin Desmond presented great examples of electric systems from other industries that can be applied to marinas. Following that, Kresimir Zic from Croatia showed how IT can be applied very efficiently to the needs of the operation of a marina, resulting in significant improvements in quality and safety, as well as having financial benefits. The final presentation of this session offered delegates the opportunity to learn and see the results of the anti-sedimentation system called Life Marina Plan.

Oscar Siches, Sara Anghel, Martinho Fortunato, and Udo Kleinitz then outlined the areas of engagement with authorities to be recognized as contributing to economy and tourism but also what areas to expect as active of regulatory development.

Session seven focused on operational trends. Nicklas Dahlstrom from Emirates Airlines explained the challenges around human resource training which are key in a world in constant transformation, even more after the Covid-19 pandemic. Then Mika Parvianien discussed how the growing demand for floating residential developments in marinas will impact the new layouts and operations. Dean Smith outlined the requirements associated with the size increase of yachts, following by Vasco de Cet who reminded the important role of marinas as the frontier between the ocean and land, which has an infrastructural as well as an operational impact with many challenges to be overcome.

In the conclusions, members of the Organising Committee summarised the outcomes of the conference. The human element and customer experience remain the highest priority despite developments around larger vessels and digitalisation. Delegates expressed their relief at being able to meet in person again and share experiences. Climate change and the need to maintain biodiversity will put the marina industry in the centre of legislation but also challenges related to client demands where the industry needs to adapt to new customers becoming familiar with boating. The share of knowledge from other industries and from good examples around the globe is the best way for the world marina business to improve practice and raise the bar of the industry as being more efficient, more responsible, and more sustainable.

Following a presentation of the next ICOMIA World Marinas Conference in 2023 in Vilamoura, Portugal, the conference closed with remarks from Bruno Meier from the Leisure Marine Association MENA.

Sara Anghel, President of ICOMIA, said:

“It was a pleasure to be part of this remarkable conference and to be able to connect with familiar and new faces. IWMC has been instrumental in bringing the industry together and putting the spotlight on so many important topics, as well as facilitating collaboration between key players with the aim to drive further the growth of the industry.”

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