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November December 2018 Marina World

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CONFERENCES Sharing and learning: Greece hosts IWMC 2018 Marina World’s Greek correspondent, Eliza Salpisti, interviews George Vernicos in the run-up to the ICOMIA World Marinas Conference (IWMC) 2018 in Athens, Greece. Eliza Salpisti (ES): This year, the Greek Marinas Association proudly hosts the ICOMIA World Marinas Conference, placing Greece under the international spotlight of marina and waterfront development. Kindly share with us your message to the global marina industry. George Vernicos (GV): We are very happy and proud that ICOMIA decided to organise the World Marinas Conference in our country and share expertise, innovation and technology with developed and traditional yachting markets. The Greek islands and the Greek archipelagos are recognised as a yachting paradise and it is obvious that all people who love to sail give priority to Greece. This is true both for small boat owners and superyacht owners and charterers; an area of international growth. Greece is a world class centre for marine tourism and we want to improve upon this. We believe that this conference will be of great help in expanding our knowledge. ES: Greece has unique potential to become a world class centre for marine tourism bound to attract significant capital and turn our country into a leading international marine tourism destination. Currently, however, we need more marinas, upgraded marinas, regional networks of shelters/anchorages and related services. How do you think Greece can improve its infrastructure? GV: We all know that significant marina construction poses many problems: environmental considerations, local community reactions and interests, as well as funding issues. Perhaps technology will help to create new potential. In the meantime, we have to constantly try to improve existing infrastructure and offer increasingly better quality of services. We urgently need new ideas regarding trends and development. ES: How would you prioritise the basic steps for further enhancing Greece’s competitive position with regards to marine tourism? GV: Constant update of the institutional framework, investments and quality services by the public and private sector. We are at the beginning of a new era for the development of marine tourism globally and especially in Greece. New technologies help us move in the right direction and, at the same time, more and more people discover the significant advantages of marine tourism. It is important that we prevent illegal charter while encouraging common regulations for the Mediterranean regarding the security and protection of the seas, the mobility of people, and uniform tax and customs regulations. I refer specifically to the conference’s topics with respect to security issues at ports and marinas, oil pollution, crisis management and updates on drystack technology and practice. ES: Greek yacht clubs preserve the country’s tradition of seamanship and also create a network of highly experienced sailors who constitute a promising human resources capital for the marina and yachting industry. How do you perceive the relationship between the three? GV: You are right to say that the cluster associated with marine tourism, including the yacht clubs, the marinas and the yachting industry, needs to work in close cooperation. European Union and Greek legislation encourage and finance synergies and clusters. ES: Please comment on investment incentives for both local investors (e.g. hoteliers) and foreign potential investors with regards to waterfront development, be it for small or large scale projects (i.e. floating docks, boat shelters, marinas). GV: Investors know far better than George Vernicos anyone else if an investment is likely to bring rewards. There are a number of financing tools that assist investors but, as I mentioned earlier, there are a number of problems such as environmental and local reactions that particularly affect large scale projects. In Greece, including Attica, there are plans for significant waterfront development and marina projects that will be presented and further analysed during the conference. ES: The ICOMIA World Marinas Conference offers insight into the latest trends in marina and waterfront sustainable development, such as floating infrastructure (e.g. service buildings, houses, pools etc), electric boat propulsion and solar piers. How do you think Greece’s legislative framework can effectively adopt such trends? GV: ICOMIA contributes significantly in terms of information and proposals for marine tourism development. Its proposals are of considerable importance and make a significant contribution to decision making. The ICOMIA policy papers, the Environmental Guide and the issues for marinas are greatly appreciated. I am sure that all of us, including the wider public sector in Greece, will benefit greatly from ICOMIA’s World Marinas Conference. George Vernicos is president of Vernicos Yachts, president of the Economic and Social Council of Greece (OKE), General Secretary of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), honorary president of the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Association (EPEST) and represents yachting as a member of the board on the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping (NEE). www.marinaworld.com - November/December 2018 21

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