As the tourist industry begins to restructure itself with the aim of becoming more resilient, responsible, and accountable to future generations, nautical tourism is also starting to step up with attempts being made to reduce waste and contamination, promote the study of local biodiversity, and address the demands of environmentally conscious boaters.
Few would counter that we are now experiencing an accelerated rhythm of change as the push to “build back better” potentially affects all areas of marina management. TransEurope Marinas members are becoming increasingly engaged with addressing sustainability challenges and working towards incorporating digital technology across their operations and services, such as the recent project with the company Pick a Pier to digitalise membership operations and improve customer communication.
Given such a significant rate of development, this is a time requiring strong leadership and industry focus, and it is very reassuring to see the European Boating Industry (EBI) creating stronger bonds with other established industry bodies such as ICOMIA and urging the nautical industry into the forefront, encouraging the European Commission to develop concrete initiatives for the benefit of the sector.
Some of the results of their efforts are reflected in reports published on tourism recovery by the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Committee for the Regions amongst others, where nautical tourism is directly referenced as a sector requiring support. On a more individual basis, members of the European Parliament and the European Commission are also being approached with a view to stimulating interest in engaging with the sector.
Based on the success of the EBI in obtaining this level of recognition for marinas, TransEurope Marinas decided to apply to become a Sustaining Member and support the work being carried out by Philip Easthill and his team.
As TransEurope Marinas president Jean-Michel Gaigné commented:
TransEurope Marinas is a unique pan-European marina network, comprising a notably reliable source of information coming from the field of marina operators. For the last couple of years, we’ve been in touch with European Boating Industry to discuss industry trends and useful insights. EBI’s dynamic and effective approach encouraged us to formally apply to become an active member of EBI, lending the voices of marina managers across Europe and the UK and looking to make the most of the synergies that might arise across our continent.
EBI are working with a full agenda, which includes topics such as the perennial issue of VAT in relation to both marinas and charter activity, together with the recognition of skipper qualifications between EU countries to facilitate operations and expand options for sailors to charter abroad. With the majority of the sector comprising SMEs, these face a harder time weathering crises, and so a primary concern is supporting the recovery and strengthening of the industry in the years to come. In order then to facilitate commerce and competitivity, attention is being paid to the simplification of procedures and easing of international trade barriers both within the EU, and as regards the US and the UK.
Thanks to EBI, the recently published paper on recovery support by European Tourism Manifesto – a cross-sectoral alliance of the tourism and travel industry – includes numerous references to the nautical sector, drawing attention to the marina community’s collective and shared needs and supporting the move towards more environmentally positive practices such as the transition towards decarbonisation, climate-change adaptation, waste and contamination reduction, or more specific actions like end-of-life boats and eco-friendly permanent mooring solutions in sensitive areas.
Further interesting projects include fomenting the use of the BlueGeneration Project Job Portal assisting younger people to find blue economy jobs and training opportunities, the EU4Ocean Platform, promoting ocean literacy, and advocating for support for the creation of a new network of nautical tourism routes that invite boating travellers to experience a more profound immersion in local cultural heritage and traditions, forging connections between across borders and creating income for surrounding communities, an endeavour that resonates firmly with TransEurope’s values.
EBI’s Secretary General, Philip Easthill commented on the role of organisations such as TransEurope Marinas within the European Boating Industry:
Sustaining members provide crucial bottom-up intelligence to our activities, such as in the case of TransEurope directly from marinas to our advocacy activities. As an overarching industry, we face a lot of exciting challenges in the next years such as digitalisation and the transition towards environmental sustainability while maintaining competitiveness. To know what works and what can be improved in the regulatory, fiscal and funding framework at European level is therefore crucial. We look forward to benefiting from the collective expertise brought together by TransEurope Marinas to support the marina sector in the coming years.
Our priorities for the next years are to build on our position as the go-to organisation for the EU institutions and stakeholders to advocate for our key issues. We believe that being a strong advocate for our industry as an important sector of the Blue Economy is crucial.