Around 225 marina professionals from 27 countries arrived in Turkey on Monday for the start of the 2014 ICOMIA World Marina Conference (WMC) in Istanbul.

Organised by the ICOMIA Marinas Group in partnership with METS organiser Amsterdam RAI, the three-day event began with a welcome speech by Alpaslan Sirkecioğlu from conference host DENTUR and Cemalettin Şevli, general director of the Turkish Maritime and Inland Waters Directorate. Together they highlighted the promising marina environment in Turkey, which currently has some 15,000 berths with plans to double the offering.

The opening ceremony also featured ICOMIA secretary general Tony Rice and Roberto Perocchio, chairman of the ICOMIA Marinas Group. They provided an insight into the latest trends and developments in the marina industry, reporting a slow but steady growth in the number of available berths worldwide. An increase of 114,000 berths (5%) is expected over the coming decade, they said, with Russia, China and South Korea leading the way in the construction of new marinas.

Following the opening ceremony, guests joined various sessions designed to facilitate knowledge and information exchange. The primary area of focus was on new opportunities in emerging markets, different approaches to marina management, and the diversity of regulations and legislation related to marinas and boating.

One of the sessions on the first day was entitled ‘Investigating the current state of the global marina industry’. This showcased the fact that the US market is starting to grow as the global recession comes to an end. There is a renewed demand for new boats, especially small and fast ones. This trend is also expected to be replicated in Europe while the market for 25m-plus yachts is growing worldwide.

Another area on the up is dry storage marinas. There are currently 80,000 on-land storage berths in the world and that number is said to be growing exponentially. In this respect, the new dry storage technology presented by Ronaldo Souza from Westrec Marinas (Brazil) during the ‘Dry Storage Marinas – Trending in the 21st Century’ session was particularly relevant.

“The dry storage market is increasing and so are the sizes of boats being stored in this way,” explained Souza. “Whereas the average size of boat being kept on land used to be 25ft, we are now seeing 60ft yachts in dry storage. This shift is being facilitated by innovative ways to move and handle heavy boats such as gantry cranes. These new techniques are being used across North and South America.”

Other topics to come out of the sessions at ICOMIA WMC 2014 was the need for environmental support worldwide in order to rate the dredging in marinas and guarantee good maintenance and accessibility. In a similar vein, designers discussed the best solutions to find a compromise between access to marinas by the public and the need for security at the berths.

“This is truly a ‘world’ marina conference,” said Phil Blake, event director of the Singapore Yacht Show. “The sheer diversity and calibre of the speakers here in Istanbul is very impressive, with viewpoints and insights offered from all around the globe.”

The next ICOMIA World Marinas Conference will be held in Rio de Janeiro in April 2016.

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    Crowds gather for 2014 ICOMIA World Marinas Conference