Adriatic Sea Forum, a project conceived and organised by Risposte Turismo, reached its second edition, which, in partnership with Dubrovnik Port Authority, the City of Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik Tourist Board, was held under the patronage of Commissioner Karmenu Vella (Directorate General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) and obtained a great success, in terms of attending speakers and delegates, contents and enthusiasm by the media.
From many sides Adriatic Sea Forum enjoyed a widespread appreciation as a unique international and itinerant event, able to bring together stakeholders from many different realities: private operators, public institutions, researchers and representatives of European projects. All these subjects gathered in Dubrovnik with the main aim to cooperate for promoting the Adriatic as a whole destination and for appraising what the area has to offer. Adriatic Sea Forum acts as the ideal platform where to compare various contexts, promote new projects or ideas and enhance the collaboration among operators from all the 7 countries facing onto this sea.
Such great premises were confirmed by the first day of the Forum: on the 23rd of April it opened with welcome speeches delivered by representatives of Croatian national institutions and local partners: Igor Butorac (from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure), Nikola Dobroslavić (Prefect of Dubrovnik – Neretva County), Antun Asić (General Manager of Dubrovnik Port Authority) and Andro Vlahušić (Mayor of Dubrovnik), who also presented the host city to the audience, highlighting the new projects and investments which may give new impulse to the city, partially changing its face. In all the addresses recurred the idea to favour all the Adriatic countries to join the European Union, to work together for this common area.
The Forum began then its work with the first plenary session, moderated by the President of Risposte Turismo, Francesco di Cesare. The debate examined the promotion of the Adriatic as a whole and saw the directors and other representatives of the national tourist boards discussing the theme “Adriatic: one sea, one destination, one brand”. The Croatian National Tourist Board was represented by Igor Borojević, while Italy was present with the Commissioner of ENIT (Italian Agency of Tourism), Cristiano Radaelli, and Montenegro with the Director of National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro, Željka Radak Kukavičić. A contribution also came from Slovenia, with Maja Pak, Spirit Slovenia. From the debate emerged a very important question: why is the Adriatic not present as a keyword in the promotional messages of its nations?
After a pleasant lunch, also used as an opportunity for networking, the afternoon started with the presentation of the Adriatic Sea Tourism Report, the study realised by Risposte Turismo, with brand new information regarding the sectors object of the Forum: cruise, ferry, sail and yacht. Francesco di Cesare introduced a room crowded with interested listeners to all the updated data included in the Report.
One of the major highlights of this edition, given the animated discussion that followed, was the keynote speech given by John Tercek (Vice President of Commercial Development, Royal Caribbean Cruises), who addressed the audience conveying, among others, two important messages: first of all, he pointed out how investing in port infrastructures is not enough to become a part of strong cruise itineraries; then, he strengthened a recurring topic of the Forum, expressing the need for cruise companies and ports to cooperate together and develop a brand awareness of the Adriatic as a unique destination, taking into consideration the needs of consumers and making port investments sustainable.
The afternoon continued with two concurrent sessions, about the boating and ferry worlds.
The first one, with technical remarks delivered by Srecko Favro, Adriatic Expert, was moderated by Braslav Karlic (Editor in Chief of the magazine More) and saw an interesting cross talk among the President of Assomarinas, Roberto Perocchio and the General Manager of ACI Croatia, Doris Peručić, together with the senior advisor of Institut Za Turizam and expert in the field, Siniša Horak. The main topic was the future of sailing in the Adriatic, with questions from the audience aiming to point out what the priorities are in conceiving the development of the nautical sector. The concurrent session about ferry saw a debate between Paolo Ferrandino (President of Assoporti), Milan Blazevski (General Manager of Split Port Authority), Ivan Aga Franicevic (Agencija Za Obalni Linijski Pomorski Promet) and Marko Cičin – Šain (Jadrolinija), with the moderation of Michele Witthaus, editor of the International Cruise & Ferry Review. Operators interested in investing in this sector tried to enhance the improvement of ports offers and not only: considerations about the possibility to develop new routes in the Adriatic area were at the centre of the debate, but the common idea is that further investments and a development of ports, destinations and a promotion of the ferry sector in general are needed, more and before the implementation of new ferry connections.
The second day started with the welcome speech of Ivo Bašić (Advisor of the Croatian Minister of Tourism), followed by the first of two consecutive plenary sessions. After technical remarks introducing the theme delivered by Piero Formenti (Vice President of European Boating Industry), with the moderation of Braslav Karlic, Editor in Chief of More, the session about marinas started. Entitled “The marinas on the Eastern and Western coasts of the Adriatic”, it saw the contribution of the marinas of Izola and Porto Montenegro (with the respective directors, Matjaž Francé and Tony Browne), together with Roberto Sponza, president of the Network Trieste Yacht Berths and Boris Rivić representing ACI Marina Rovinj. The widespread thought emerged at the end of the round table is the need of a better knowledge of the demand, its needs and requests, in order to create a common offer able to reply to the requests of seafarers avoiding to lose them, as well as a further integration and awareness about the whole Adriatic marina’s offer, so as each structure could be able to suggest itineraries and routes to its clients. After this focus about marinas, the cruise session “Cruise sector to lead Adriatic development” followed. It was opened by the technical remarks of Marco Digioia (CLIA Europe) and moderated by Anthony La Salandra, General Manager of Risposte Turismo. The theme was debated by Alessandro Carollo (Royal Caribbean Cruise Line), Dario Rustico on behalf of Costa Crociere, together with the General Manager of Dubrovnik Port Authority, Antun Asić, and Maro Saulovic (Intercruises). The strong commitment of the whole operators involved in the cruise industry in facilitating the development of infrastructures, jobs, activities and economies was highlighted by all the participants at the round table. Furthermore, the need that all operators consider themselves as part of an extended destination, avoiding an individualist vision, has been showed as the most important aspect to carry on for the future growth of Adriatic in the cruise sector.
Adriatic Sea Forum ended with the closing plenary session moderated by the President of Risposte Turismo, Francesco di Cesare. Dedicated to a debate about the sustainable economic growth of the Adriatic, it saw the intervention of the Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Tourism of Montenegro, Olivera Brajović, together with Kristijan Pavic, Vice President of MedCruise and Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission. The European Commission, with the Directorate General for Growth (Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs) was represented by the National Expert Cinzia De Marzo. The session also included the participation of Kyriakos Anastassiadis (CLIA Europe) and Piero Formenti (Vice President of European Boating Industry). The theme of the sustainability for the economic development of the area had been debated underlining how crucial could be a shared engagement of the public and private operators of the area, in order to guarantee the conditions which may foster a strong economic growth with a full respect of all the criticalities and emergencies which may come from the environmental, social and political sides. Collaboration and competition, economy and environment, growth and preservation appear more and more as manageable and synergic binomials than dichotomies.
After a satisfying first experience, another edition of great importance followed this year in Dubrovnik. Risposte Turismo will then meet you again, at the next edition of Adriatic Sea Forum.