The GM of Confindustria Nautica talks to LN: “The Genoa Boat Show is an example of courage, and a model of management”

Interview with Marina Stella, general manager of Confindustria Nautica. A snapshot of the boating industry, the impact of the Italian chain around the world, and issues that still need resolving

20 September 2021 | by Redazione
The nautical chain is safe from the waves of the pandemic

Marina Stella is the general manager of Confindustria Nautica. Among her many roles, in addition to her skill in giving a snapshot, at any point in time of the statistics, data and analysing the health of the boating industry, the impact of the Italian chain internationally, and foreseeing changes in the market, is also that of opening the doors to the International Genoa Boat Show.

What many of us working in the industry know as “the Show”, is in fact an international event, not just for exhibitors and visitors. It is a calling card for Italy, sharing its excellence, artisan and industrial skills with the economy of the entire planet.

This is Liguria Nautica’s interview with Marina Stella.

Ms. Stella, once again, this year, optimism is running high through a number of businesses in the nautical chain. What sectors of the industry are growing the most?

Data on market trends regarding the current boating year, as elaborated using samples from industry businesses, show a positive trend for ship building with an order portfolio of over 20% growth for four out of ten companies.

Overall, 96% of those surveyed are expecting an increase in turnover, thanks to the continuing push of exports, confirming Italian nautical leadership around the world. Regarding the international market, sales networks are consolidating the results from 2020, and forecast a fundamentally stable market for 66% of those surveyed.

We have been the world leadership for vessels over 24 metres in length for over 20 years: over 50% of those made in the world are made in Italy. The Covid emergency has helped many discover boating as a chance for freedom, with a return in 2020 of internal and family use.

Last year, it was said that a boating holiday was the safest kind during the pandemic, because of the social isolation and the fact that you can remain in contact with just your family or friends on board. Is the growth that the industry is experiencing now still dictated by the need to avoid crowded places or is it because of a new-found desire to go out to sea?

Summer 2020 was certainly a particularly positive time for pleasure boating, as it was rediscovered as an opportunity to enjoy a holiday in the fresh air, in touch with nature, in freedom and socially distanced. This affected all levels of the market.

The order portfolio for shipyards, guaranteeing two or three years of full time work for those businesses is proof that the passion of being on the water is strong, and the quality of our products, made up of professional and technical skills recognised as a great industrial and economical value, is able to win over the competition on the international market.

Once again this year, the Genoa Boat Show has sold out of exhibitor spaces. Do you think this favourable time for the boating industry is also reflected in the public? What do you think will happen in terms of visitors?

There can be no market growth without increased interest from the public and enthusiasts. Already with the last iteration, we caw a shift in the type of visitors coming to the Boat Show, with a high presence of qualified, specialised and business orientated public. The Show’s format is multi-specialised and is therefore able to satisfy the interests of the public for all types of products.

Our objective, besides target numbers, seeing as this year the social and health protocols limit the number of accesses, is to guarantee quality, safety and efficiency, both for exhibitors and visitors.

Marina Stella. Photos by Claudio Colombo

The Boat Show is proudly Italian but is also international. What will the contribution of foreign visitors and exhibitors be this year?

Once again the incoming project has been added to the Piano di Promozione del Made in Italy created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation through the ICE Agenzia. The most important operators of the industry, journalists and international buyers coming from 25 different countries will be present at the 61st Boat Show.

The ability demonstrated last year, during the pandemic, of being able to pull together the necessary strategies to put on the only event in the industry during Covid, led the foreign exhibitors to easily plan their participation in this year’s Show, so much so that the event sold out of exhibitor spaces by the end of June.

The online ticket sales showed an 82% increase compared to 2020, 15 days from the opening date, highlighting the attraction the event has on the professional industry public and on boating enthusiasts. We currently represent an example of courage, safety and a model of management that has not only been recognised in Italy, but around the world.

During the pandemic, Confindustria Nautica successfully pressed the government to first open the shipyards so they could continue building and then to allow boaters to go back out on the water. Now what are you discussing with the government and Parliament?

Currently we are debating on issues undermining the competitiveness of our businesses, the inequality in applying VAT across Europe and the long-standing debate with the State on the tourist marinas, risking survival through the retroactive application of public concession fees established in 2007.

On the table is also, a discussion about supporting all the businesses in the nautical chain: ports, charter companies, nautical schools, brokers and service agencies, all of whom have been strongly impacted by anti-Covid measures and don’t always receive the benefits provided to tourist companies.

Regarding provisions, we have managed to have two reforms made to the Nautical Code, but we are still waiting on the new regulations to be issued, with particular attention on the modernisation of safety rules, updates on boating licences, administrative simplification, new provisions for chartered and rented vessels, alignment of technical regulations for super yachts with those in England and Malta.

 

Giuseppe Orrù

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