The first-ever Economist Sea Tourism Summit was organised ahead of boot Düsseldorf with around 200 participants discussing the future of nautical tourism. Speakers included industry leaders, policy-makers and other high-level participants. The event stood under the theme of “Navigating a sea of opportunities”. It provided many interesting panel discussions and presentations on the future of nautical tourism and the role that industry and policy-makers, as well as the positive impact of the industry. EBI was one of the sponsors of the event.
EBI President Jean-Pierre Goudant gave a keynote at the Summit, highlighting the importance of nautical tourism for economies, employment and in particular coastal and peripheral regions. He highlighted some key challenges for the industry, namely economic turbulence, adaptation to climate change, changing consumer demand and increase in sharing economy.
In his remarks, he also highlighted the key measures that can ensure a sustainable growth and increase employment in the recreational boating industry. This requires industry adaptation to solidify the existing interest in boating among younger generations, as well as innovation, digitalisation and a strong environmental perspective.
He emphasised the role of the EU institutions in supporting industry through: 1) Positive EU agenda towards promotion of nautical tourism , 2) Level playing field in tourism sector in regulation and taxation, 3) Research and innovation funding, 4) Stronger Single Market and 5) Mutual recognition of skipper licenses.
Several speakers provided their perspective on the future development of the nautical tourism industry. Robert Marx, President of BVWW underlined that boating tourism does not just refer to mega yachts, but the huge number of smaller boats that have a share of more than 80%. The smaller boats, especially as charter boats, have a substantial impact on the tourism economy. He called for an alignment of VAT rates for campsites and mooring berths. Yves Lyon-Caen, President of the French Leisure Marine Industry Federation FIN underlined the importance of environmental challenges and ensuring that the pleasure of being on the sea is the focus in engaging a new generation of customers.
Petros Michelidakis, Director of Boot Düsseldorf underlined the importance of having a strong future perspective for the indsustry. A key aspect to consider is that even though nautical tourism is a small part of the overall economy, is does not appear as small if one looks at the positive impact for society, economies and people benefiting from the sector.