The developmental prospects of the cruising and yachting sectors in the wider East Mediterranean and Black Sea regions in relation to the changing geopolitical and economic landscape of the sub-region's source and destination markets will be tabled at the 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum taking place in Athens in May.
Senior international policy and decision makers from the world's top cruise lines and yachting service providers will join regulators, maritime government officials and local authorities of port destinations in a unique lineup of sea tourism industry experts to debate the crucial issues that determine their growth trends and future sustainability.
Confirmed top speakers and panelists of the Forum include amongst others:
John Fox, Vice President, Government Relations, U.S. and Europe, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Giora Israel, Senior Vice President Port and Destination Development, Carnival Corporation
Richard Vogel, Chief Executive Officer, TUI Cruises
John Tercek, Vice President Commercial & New Business Development, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Kyriakos Anastassiadis, Chief Executive Officer, LOUIS Cruises
Diane Moore, President, Paul Gauguin Cruises
Robert Ashdown, Secretary General, CLIA Europe
Neil Palomba, Chairman of the CLIA Europe Ports & Infrastructure Sub-Committee and Corporate Operating Officer, MSC Cruises
Stavros Hatzakos, President, Medcruise
Toby Maclaurin, President, Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA)
Hein Velema, Chief Executive Officer, Fraser Yachts Worldwide
Matthew Bate, Chief Executive Officer, D-Marin Marinas Group
James Beaver, Operations Director, Camper & Nicholsons Marinas Limited
Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Konstantinos Moussouroulis, Minister of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean
"The importance attached to our Forum by the industry's most influential players is indicative of the critical juncture we find ourselves today as the East Med was just beginning to take off and expectations were bullish until it was hit by the financial crisis and the Arab Spring uprising," said Theodore Vokos, Project Director, Posidonia Exhibitions SA, the organisers of the event.
"Cruise Lines are currently increasing supply to the Far East, at the expense of our region's prospects as they are delaying deployment of further capacity in our region, and Greece and the East Med region need to compensate by accelerating the development of the emerging backyard markets, so as to re-attract attention and stimulate growth," said Vokos.
The conference will commence with a session looking at growth challenges for the region with a focus on the role of governments, legislation and environmental considerations in relation to long-term corporate strategies.
During the first day, delegates will also discuss the importance of port investment to the growth of the cruise industry and take a detailed look at how Italy, Turkey and the Black Sea have attracted such investments at the expense of Greece which has yet failed to fully capitalise on its potential. However, Greece's expected port privatization, currently in the planning stages, is expected to attract increased investment interest from both international port managers and cruise lines, who will attend the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum and who in turn will be able to present possible investment plans and table the cruise industry's needs so as to improve port infrastructure in Greece.
The conference will also include a dedicated sales development session, of upmost importance for the region's future sea tourism growth. Topics to be discussed are the region's new emerging source markets of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey and how this potential can be tapped. The Cruise Day’s final session will address the key parameters of port, destination and shore excursion selection for cruise success.
The Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum has also attracted the interest of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which will host the event's parallel session on Day 2 "Black Sea Discovery: Exciting Cruise Destinations on the Black Sea" that will include discussions about the Black Sea destinations of Sochi, Trabzon and Constanta and their role towards the growth of sea tourism in the region.
The international appeal of the event is also reflected by its rapidly increasing list of exhibitors, which includes destinations from the East Med and Black and Red Sea regions. So far confirmed sponsors include Louis Cruises, RINA and the Dubai Maritime City Authority, which has picked this event to promote the new services and facilities Dubai provides the sea tourism industry.
The focus of the second day will be the yachting and passenger shipping sectors; the opening session will discuss the status of cabotage in the Greek commercial yachting sector and examine the Greek government's willingness and readiness to follow a more liberalized framework.
With more than 15 marinas in Greece earmarked for privatisation, it is expected that international marina managers, including Camper & Nicholsons Marinas and D-Marinas Group who have recently invested in Greek Marinas, will present their future strategy for the region.
"Another dedicated session will look at Greece's policies on marina privatisation in relation to the strong interest expressed by Turkish and other international marina developers and operators and the receptiveness of the Greek government to benefit from the know-how and advanced expertise of international private investors," said Vokos.The 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum is organised under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Tourism, the Greek Ministry of Shipping, Maritime Affairs and the Aegean, CLIA - Europe, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), the Association of Passenger Shipping Companies, the Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports (MEDCRUISE), the Hellenic Ports' Association (ELIME), the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners' Association, the Greek Marinas' Association, the Union of Greek Cruise Ship Owners & Associated Members, the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies (HATTA) and the Hellenic Yacht Brokers' Association.