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July August 2019 Marina World

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TALKING SHOP Photos:

TALKING SHOP Photos: Ville de Mâcon (Gaël Fontany) Above: The harbour master’s office was recently rebuilt and includes an information area in which local attractions are promoted. Below: Around 425 boats can moor up in clean, tranquil surroundings. Consumption of water and electricity is also closely monitored. Electricity is included in the flat rate fee for those who lease an annual berth and visitors are charged €2 per day for normal consumption. Above a certain limit, the supply stops automatically. Water is controlled by a timing system. Customers press a button to receive water for five to ten minutes. The button needs to be pressed again if more water is required. This attention to detail, the modern and efficient infrastructure and the very strict French approach to standards for leisure boating and marinas resulted in a positive local attitude towards the redevelopment. “Ninety-five per cent of people were favourable towards the development of the marina and the way it was to be managed. Of course, as always, when something is new there are some who do not agree,” Racca admits. Attracting customers It is tempting to assume that a marina, no matter how modern, that is far from the sea will rely on local custom. True, in part, but Racca delivers some surprises. “We have 425 berths and currently have just 40 available so can say that the marina is full. Roughly 30% of our berth holders live near the marina or within 50km [31mi], the others come from all over the world. We have Mexicans, Canadians, Australians, Portuguese, Spaniards, South Americans and customers from the United States. It’s truly global aside from Chinese and Japanese – for now. And in terms of visitors – whether they stay for one night or six months – over 90% of customers are from outside of France.” Visitor berthing may be at a premium but all are warmly welcomed. “We do everything we can to give people a place. We welcome them. If they have any technical problems we source outside companies to solve the issues. We help them with everything they need, from serious concerns to things like finding a restaurant or lending them bikes to go to the town centre just 3km [2mi] away.” Destination appeal is taken seriously as no one comes to Port Mâcon just to enjoy boating. The harbour master’s office has dedicated space for a company that provides information on what the area offers and suggests all kinds of discovery routes. Agreements have also been made with organisations that offer guided tours; a new tourism initiative. For those who want to be more adventurous – from both a nautical and tourism perspective – it is possible to reach the Mediterranean by boat, passing through the Sâone-et-Loire region through the Rhône and the Camargue delta; beautiful areas that deserve to be seen and experienced to the full. “Our brochure describes a trip of two or three days but, in general, those who leave Mâcon by boat towards Camargue and Port- Saint-Louis-du-Rhône on the Med, take more time – on average reaching their destination in four days,” Racca says. All marina operations are dovetailed with the municipality as it is normal in France for projects, tariffs and decisions regarding a marina to be taken by the town and its mayor. “We make proposals that must then be examined and validated by the Municipal Council. I take care of the marina management following City Hall instructions and with respect to the mayor’s decisions. We are here to welcome customers, listen to their needs, inform, manage the budget and everything related to the port, take care of the boats and all related activities,” Racca emphasises, adding that he believes the existing development to be complete. “There are no plans to increase the number of berths in the future, Port Mâcon is already the largest river marina in France and more growth would be too much. It would mean more staff, more equipment and more services. It would mean reviewing everything. We prefer to maintain our size and focus on better management, optimising reception, services and contacts with everything that revolves around the port.” As such, the focus will continue to be on social and eco-friendly development. www.marinaworld.com - July/August 2019 19

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