The event’s organisers said that the biennial event has managed to quickly establish itself as a leading business platform for global cruising and yachting industry decision makers and governments, tourism bodies, regulators and ports & destinations from the entire Mediterranean and Black Sea region.
“We are excited with the success of this addition to our event portfolio,” said Theodore Vokos, Project Director at Posidonia Exhibitions S.A., who is also the organizer of Posidonia Shipping Exhibition, the world’s most prestigious trade shipping event.
Over 650 delegates and 32 exhibitors from 25 countries attended this year’s Forum which was held over a two-day period at the Athens Megaron last month and organisers believe that this is just the beginning, for 2015 the bar has been set even higher.
“The quality of the Forum’s keynote speakers and panelists was tremendous as they represented the world’s biggest cruise and yachting operators and associations. The issues they raised and discussed were extremely topical to many direct or indirect stakeholders of the sea tourism industry in this region and this alone made for one great event that challenged, provoked and inspired,” said Vokos.
All participants from both cruise and yachting sectors agreed that Greece has significant competitive advantages with regard to sea tourism, but needs to do more to overcome certain ill conceived policies and regulatory anachronisms that impede development. According to senior speakers at the Posidonia Forum, Greece has the potential of greatly increasing its current share of a European sea tourism pie that amounts to a combined output of over 40 billion euro annually. Although Greece’s recent efforts to improve transparency and simplify bureaucratic procedures are commendable, effective change can only happen through longer-term strategies and better coordination. Infrastructure development and legislative reform aimed at increasing competitiveness in both cruise homeporting and yacht berthing would accelerate sea tourism development in Greece and thus helping boost the country’s economic revival and fight against high unemployment.
“We believe that all who attended realized the enormous potential that Sea Tourism presents for the region and what a positive impact it can have on the region’s economies. We are committed to making our next event even more thought-provoking and we are asking all stakeholders to look into the issues raised at the Forum and introduce strategies and measures to help our region reap more benefits from this lucrative sector.” Vokos concluded.
The event was lauded by delegates and exhibitors as a resounding success. Significant partnerships were forged during the two days as delegates and exhibitors engaged industry executives and participated at a series of workshops and targeted meetings with the goal of finding mutual synergies. As Eleftherios Kechagioglou, President at the Hellenic Network Small Islands Network, said: “Thanks to our participation, we are about to close a deal with Seabourn Cruises for two exploratory calls at Hydra this summer. In addition, this coming September and in collaboration with Donomis Cruise Services we will organise a B2B conference for local entrepreneurs focusing on their responsibilities to these sectors and ways they can improve their services in order to experience growth.”
Cahya Summaningish of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, said: “This is our 2nd participation at the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum. When we first visited the Forum in 2011 we immediately realised the importance of the nature of this institution and hence we decided to participate this year as exhibitors. In addition, the fact that a number of top stakeholders of the cruise and yachting industry would attend the event was also a very important factor that urged us to visit Greece for yet another year.”
Jamal Humaid Al Falasi Director Cruise Tourism Dubai added: “We are looking really to tap into the region and open new markets by meeting representatives of companies like cruise lines and convince them to reposition some of their assets and use Dubai as a hub. We are very happy with our participation at the 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum as we met the right people and we achieved our objectives. We also had a very constructive meeting with the Minister of Tourism and talked about future cooperation. We discussed strategies of encouraging passengers from Dubai coming to Greece for a cruise as well as the other way round.”
An important feature of the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum was the dedicated session for Black Sea destinations, organised by the United Nations Development Programme, which gave the cities of Sochi, Batumi and Trapzone the opportunity to present their potential and recent infrastructure improvements to senior executives of the cruise industry. Dita Daniela Drone, Business Broker at UNDP BSTIP, commented: “The Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum’s programme was full with a good range of thought-provoking content. And in this setting the event was a really great opportunity for the UNDP BSTIP invitees –the port authorities and tour operators from the Black Sea region - to learn about of the new trends, legislation and the activities of the key players in the industry as well as network and have specifically pre-scheduled and focused meetings with the cruise line representatives. We look forward to working again with Posidonia at the next Forum”. Mr Alexander Kikava of Batumi Sea Port concluded: “The Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum was one of the most interesting and valuable events for Batumi Sea Port this year. During the event there was a great focus on the Eastern Black Sea region as a growing destination. With support of UNDP Black Sea Trade and Investment Promotion Programme, our Port’s representatives were able to present our destination and to participate in B2B meetings with top-managers of region’s major cruise operator companies. This forum was a great opportunity to meet the colleagues from another ports and cruise market players face-to-face to improve understanding and find a ways of collaboration.”
The 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum thanks the following sponsors for their support: Gold Sponsors Greek National Tourism Organisation & Samsung Electronics Hellas, Silver Sponsor Piraeus Port Authority and Sponsors RINA, Louis Cruises, Dubai Maritime City Authority and MVS Associates.
The 2nd Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum was 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.