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May June 2020 Marina World

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Woolverstone

Woolverstone Marina, Ipswich 182x132mm_Marina World Advert_Jan_Feb_2020.indd 1 09/12/2019 15:58 World Leaders in the Design, Manufacture and Installation of Marina Services Maricer (CPES Ltd) Vale Industrial Estate, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 5HE United Kingdom www.maricer.com sales@maricer.com Call Now On +44 (0) 1790 753164

CRISIS MANAGEMENT our priorities go to the social groups we belong to: nationality, job, associations and affinities. And this is where I have the impression that the marina industry is not reacting as the closely bonded guild it should be. For some years we have said that the marina industry needs more communication, more cooperation and coordination to be able to lobby with more chance of success and to build a database enabling us to study trends, boat mooring/storing spaces and seasonal occupation. Some progress has been done on the matter, mainly with the help of the Marina Industries Association (MIA) of Australia and the ICOMIA Marinas Group. But it seems that the industry has not appreciated the impact of this year’s pandemic. We are not speaking about shifting bookings and occupation or price variation. While the confinement is in place, a marina’s day to day is a future situation to be guessed, a sudden shock to be dealt with as soon as boat users start to go boating again. This boating will not be as it was before: it will be gradual, slow and very demanding on management decisions as to how to regulate toilet and shower use etc. There will be no more packed restaurants at the weekend, not even a busy bar to comment on the catch of the day, the weather, the neighbour’s new boat or the latest electronic gadget. Marinas as social communities, a concept that has been fought for for many years, will disappear for some time. The notion of “grouping is dangerous” will prevail. For how long? At least as long as the world’s governments do not consider countries free of the virus threat, free air travel is allowed again, and what is much more important, people do not feel afraid of being exposed to the virus. For that matter, media news has not helped at all by adopting a strong catastrophic tone. The skipper will always want to go boating, but many family and friends will consider that it is too soon to attempt to do it. And with crippled services at the marina, the fun will be considerably less. We are saturated with the message of the numbers of people sick, of deaths, and of hygiene and social distancing, which is part of governmental protocols to relax confinement rules, yet everybody pays attention and is aware of it. What hurts me is not seeing a single message reminding people that boating is a sport that automatically fulfils the rules of distancing (if you are less than two metres from a person on another boat you’d better call the insurance: you are in trouble), that is usually enjoyed with family or friends, that a boat is very easily sanitised. I also miss the organising help for all those in the marina community who are going through hard times. Raising money via charities is valid but solidarity is a horizontal concept that generates mutual respect. Here are some thoughts: • If boat owners are not able to buy fuel – invite them on your boat • Give restaurants extra terrace place at no charge to match their capacity while fulfilling social distancing • Small companies are the ones facing the worst financial trouble: rent and wages. They will have to downsize to try to survive. Self-employed single person services are the next. If the marina bar or restaurant is operating at a fraction of capacity, they could offer cheap meals to marina workers, own and external. • Service companies and individuals can organise small group events: training on simple subjects like fishing, engine and outboard maintenance, cooking onboard, occupations that the users value and are simple, and keep the companies As never seen before? Port of Palma in the middle of the day during the coronavirus lockdown belonged exclusively to its yachts. and service people in contact with the client. By doing things like this, various opportunities will come up for vulnerable groups and, although it may not translate into immediate job increase, it will help people psychologically by making them feel less abandoned, and still part of the marina community. The one value for the users will be health safety, and they will agree to change their habits and respect new ones. Of course the ideas and examples given here are not from the coretraditional procedures we knew and followed up to January 2020, but the priority is, at least for the next five to ten years, to make the users as well as the whole industry feel comfortable. Everybody in the industry knows that without environmentally controlled waters, there is no industry. Neither is any industry without people, and this is now the weak link. The way forward is something to be done by all parties, if we want to succeed. This awful situation has marked us indelibly. Let’s hope the lesson is learned and a bright future lies ahead of us. Oscar Siches runs Marina Matters, a consultancy based in Mallorca, Spain. E: oscar@siches.com www.marinaworld.com - May/June 2020 27

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