ICOMIA helps emerging markets with marina plans


The International Council of Marine Industry Associations’ International Marinas Group is helping emerging markets around the world to plan marinas and infrastructure that will support recreational boating.

“The mission of our marina group is to go places that have emerging markets and help with planning,” Gary Groenewold of Westrec Marinas, who is a part of the group, told Trade Only Today.

The group was in China two weeks ago, meeting with a large delegation of planners in a huge Q&A session with about 25 representatives from 25 countries, Groenewold said.

“The Chinese are investing a lot of money in Sanya, an island in the South China Sea,” he said. “It’s on the same latitude as Hanoi, so it’s very tropical like Fort Lauderdale. They’re really making a push for spas and recreation because most of China is very cold. The recreational boating industry is in its infancy, so they invite folks like ICOMIA to meet with big delegations.”

“Because you basically have one person from each country in the group you get a cross-section of marina experts with different experiences with yachts and megayachts,” Groenewold said. “I was able to answer questions about dry storage because I have a lot of dry storage. We rack-store quadruple-engine Intrepids that are 50 feet long. They were very interested in that. Other friends of mine from other places were able to answer different questions.”

Other areas Groenewold has visited with the delegation include Buenos Aires, Argentina; St. Petersburg, Russia; South Africa; and Beirut. The group will go to Istanbul, Turkey, in June, followed by Sri Lanka.

Istanbul will host the conference the group holds every three years. “It’s going to be quite something,” Groenewold said. “People from all over the world gather to talk about that part of the industry.”

Groenewold says some might be surprised about the regions that are interested in developing infrastructure to support recreational boating.

“There is huge interest in boating and marinas in Lebanon,” he said. “Turkey is exploding with manufacturers, and some major megayacht builders are moving some of their work there. Turkey is building a lot of hulls. Some Italian boatbuilders are building hulls in Turkey and bringing them to Italy to finish. I guess in Turkey they have very competent steel workers and it’s still a lot cheaper to build there.”

— Reagan Haynes