Industry leaders attend World Marinas Conference in Vilamoura

Nautical tourism is key part of Algarve’s strategy

Hundreds of key operators, owners and managers of marinas from all over the world travelled to the Algarve this week to attend the International Council of Marine Industry’s (ICOMIA) World Marinas Conference, held in Vilamoura between October 9 and 11.

Minister of Agriculture, Maria do Céu Antunes, arrives at the event and is greeted by local leaders

The event was organised by the Portuguese Association of Recreational Ports (APPR) and took place at the Algarve Congress Centre.

Entitled “Big Challenges – Big Decisions,” the conference brought together approximately 400 people, including representatives government agencies, consultants, designers, and other industry professionals.

“The ICOMIA World Marinas Conference is the largest global gathering of the nautical industry,” said Isolete Correia, President of APPR and Director of Vilamoura Marina. “It is, therefore, a great privilege to host this prestigious event and welcome the world leaders of this industry to Portugal – a country with strong nautical traditions, pioneering in navigation through uncharted waters and thus the perfect location to host this exchange of information, ideas, and collective learning.”

The conference’s opening session was attended by the Minister of Agriculture and Food, the Secretary of State for Fishing, and the Mayor of Loulé.

On the agenda were discussions on asset management, maintenance, benchmarking, risk mitigation, environmental leadership, climate change, and technology, helping shed light on the challenges, trends, and best practices in the nautical sector through the voices of prominent experts from around the globe.

It was the first time that Portugal hosted the ICOMIA World Marinas Conference, edging out other possible hosts in Europe and the United States. The last edition had taken place in Dubai in 2021.

One of the people in attendance at the conference in Vilamoura was Algarve tourism boss André Gomes, who revealed that nautical tourism is a key cog in the region’s promotional strategy.

“Nautical tourism is a high-quality segment that is highly valued and for which the Algarve provides fantastic conditions, not only through its marinas but also through a set of services offered by the region’s tourist entertainment and maritime-tourism operators,” Gomes told the Resident in an interview this week.

He elaborated on these comments later on, stressing that the region’s tourism entities are hard at work promoting this sector of activity.

“In September, we participated in two strategic events in partnership with the marinas of Lagos, Portimão, and Vilamoura, with the aim of introducing the excellent nautical conditions of the Algarve to premium tourist segments and attracting new markets to the region,” Gomes said.

“We held an event in Stockholm earlier this month, which proved to be a unique opportunity to do business with 25 Swedish operators dedicated to this type of tourism. More recently, we were also present, for the first time, at the prestigious Genoa International Boat Show, one of the world’s leading nautical exhibitions held annually in the Italian city of Genoa,” he added.

In a statement to the press, the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA) has highlighted everything the region has to offer in terms of nautical tourism, from “adrenaline-pumping sports” like surfing, kitesurfing, or power boating to “more serene activities” like sailing or canoeing along the coast, cave visits, diving, sport fishing, or aquatic biodiversity observation.

The new underwater exhibition recently unveiled in Albufeira, featuring artworks by Portuguese artist Vhils which can only be viewed underwater, was also highlighted.

“We will continue to invest in the importance of nautical tourism in our strategic promotion plan, with a view to sustainable tourism growth for the destination that is less dependent on seasonality,” added Gomes.

By Michael Bruxo

[email protected]

Portugal Resident