MARINAS22: inspiring – and successful

The Marinas22 international conference and trade exhibition reaffirmed its place as one of the largest marina industry conferences in the world after welcoming over 320 attendees across two days to the Australian Gold Coast 23rd-24th May.

The conference was opened by the Hon. Michael Healy, Queensland Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development, a strong supporter of the industry who highlighted the measures in place for future sector growth. An economic overview, forecast and implications for industry was delivered by Tapas Strickland, NAB chief markets economist, before Ashley Fell, demographer and social researcher and director of advisory at McCrindle Research, outlined the changing consumer and demographic trends and the opportunities ahead for the marina industry.
L to r: Suzanne Davies, Innovation Award winner Paul Williams, and Andrew Chapman.

L to r: Suzanne Davies, Innovation Award winner Paul Williams, and Andrew Chapman.

Andrew Chapman, MIA president, released the findings of the 2021 Health of the Australian Marina Industry Survey (HAMIS), which presents a resilient and strengthened industry but challenges operators and governments to provide additional storage capacity to support the boating boom.
Joe Ueberroth, president and owner of Bellingham Marine, delivered a thought-provoking presentation on how marinas could maximise their returns. The conference hall buzzed, with delegates busy re-evaluating their current business practices to take on board some of the ideas presented.

Specialist topics

L to r: Darren Oh, SUTL general manager (business development); Teo Joo Leng, SUTL group general manager; James Roy, marina director One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove; and Jonathan Sit, general manager One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove.

L to r: Darren Oh, SUTL general manager (business development); Teo Joo Leng, SUTL group general manager; James Roy, marina director One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove; and Jonathan Sit, general manager One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove.

With the macro picture painted and the industry opportunities examined, the first afternoon presented delegates with a choice of specialist subjects to examine. Conference committee chairman, Mike Harvey, commented: “The Marinas22 programme was designed to allow delegates the opportunity to delve into topics by choosing between two workshop streams, each with a panel of experts. Day one included innovation, the environment and decarbonisation, boatyard evolution, marketing and marina events.”
The Innovation Showcase was the highlight, and showcased five new products, four of which were environmental initiatives. A live poll was taken from over 150 delegates in attendance and the Man Overboard Marina Alarm System was announced as the winner in a tightly contested result. In receiving his award, product creator Paul Williams explained the genesis of his idea: “It was conceived after a near drowning incident in a marina where my boat is moored. A woman had fallen into the marina late at night and by the time her cries for help were heard she was suffering serious hypothermia as well as other injuries. I went home that night and came up with a solution that has consumed my life ever since.”

Second day

The Hon. Michael Healy.

The Hon. Michael Healy.

Day two of the conference focused on encouraging delegates to look internally at their operations to further capitalise on the recent industry growth. This was led by Darren Vaux, vice president of ICOMIA and managing director of Empire Marinas Group. He provided delegates with insights, and discussed opportunities on how the industry could engage with new and old boaters as we move into a post-COVID environment.
Suzanne Davies, Marina Industries Association (MIA) CEO, provided an overview of the MIA, outlining how it is supporting industry and following a strategic direction. Davies then introduced Ed Shute, membership and programmes manager, who explained the importance of the environmental and accreditation programmes the MIA administers, along with the industry training and educational programmes. New industry support initiatives including My Marina Guide and Marine Jobs were also presented. In closing, Shute commented, “it is our business to help members grow theirs,” – a sentiment embraced by the room.
Day two workshops delved into topics and key pain points, such as insuring against and managing risk, legal issues facing marinas and creating an engaged, productive and high performing workforce through training and development.
Lyndon Turner, CEO Nautilus Marine Insurance, chaired a panel of experts who discussed current market conditions and provided delegates with useful guidance on key risk areas affecting their marinas.
During the ‘Lessons and Learnings’ session, Scott Finsten, harbour master Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Thailand, described a recent boat fire at his facility, explaining the key takeaways and best practices that need to be in place to avoid disaster. Panel chair, Andrew Chapman, commented: “It’s these first hand experiences that help build knowledge amongst the industry and in the long run will reduce the number of catastrophic accidents occurring.”

Final flourish

The conference programme concluded with Jonathan MacDonald’s keynote address: ‘Inspiring Success’. MacDonald invigorated the room to embrace innovation. Suzanne Davies summed up: “Jonathan gave our marinas a lot to think about, changing their mindset of the business they think they are in and shifting this to the business they are truly in. When we selected Jonathan to be our keynote speaker, we were drawn to his ability to invoke deeper thinking and inspire an audience to challenge the status quo.”
And finally, the ‘blue carpet’ was rolled out for the Gala Dinner. The evening provided an opportunity for the industry to celebrate achievements and recognise some of the industry’s long-serving members: Colin Bransgrove for his 13 years of service as MIA CEO, and Phil McGowen CMM, marina manager of Birkenhead Point Marina, for over 14 years of service volunteering and providing his knowledge, skill and time in the creation and delivery of many industry courses.
Five industry professionals were formally acknowledged as new Certified Marina Managers by the Global Marina Institute and One°15 Marina Sentosa Cove, Singapore, was awarded Platinum 5 Gold Anchor accreditation.
The Gala Dinner concluded with presentation of an MIA Lifetime Achievement Award – the highest honour given by the association – to John Spragg, vice president MIA. The award, only three of which have ever been made, recognises individuals who have been major contributors to the marina industry over an extended period of time and for a majority of their professional life.
“John has been a true believer in what the MIA stands for,” said Andrew Chapman. “During his tenure at Bellingham Marine, John ensured that the MIA had the seed capital to operate while it was merely a volunteer organisation, through to today as the association’s Platinum Sponsor. Without John’s or Bellingham’s involvement the MIA would not be the strong association it is today.”

Innovation Showcase shortlist

  • Jellyfishbot from IADYS is an on-water robot. It is the size of a small suitcase and collects floating solid and liquid waste floating on the water surface.
  • Collect’Thor from The Searial Cleaners is fixed to the edge of a marina or seawall where it attracts and contains waste floating on the water surface. It is totally silent and can collect and store up to 100kg (220lbs) of waste before being cleaned.
  • WINNER: The Man Overboard Alarm System, developed by Paul Williams, enables a casualty to simply pull a cord under the pontoon decking to sound an audible alarm. This not only raises attention but also gives marina management the location of the person in distress.
  • Sucoil from Sustainable Oil Recovery is a cost-effective, recyclable solution to removing hydrocarbons from water. Deployed on a sponge, the spill attracts the hydrocarbons, which can be squeezed from the sponge and recycled. The sponge can be reused and repurposed, reducing landfill.
  • Seavolt is an electric charging network for ports and waterways – soon to be installed in Empire Marinas Group marinas.


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