Maritime Affairs

A European Maritime Day on sustainable maritime tourism and connectivity

A European Maritime Day on sustainable maritime tourism and connectivity

A European Maritime Day on sustainable maritime tourism and connectivity

Photo: DOI - Clifton Fenech

Coastal development and sustainable maritime tourism were the focus themes of this year's edition of European Maritime Day. For two days in Valletta, Malta, experts from all maritime sectors and from all over Europe discussed how to drive the tourism industry forward and maintain its position not only as a sector for sustainable growth, but also as a crucial driver for the wider economy and a key contributor to the EU's Blue Growth agenda.

Tourism is the largest sector of the maritime industry, providing employment for 2.35 million people and producing over €100bn value added to the EU economy every year. Crucially, the sector has remained remarkably resilient over the last few difficult years and continues to offer employment opportunities in coastal regions which are often isolated and which may not have extensive economic activities elsewhere. But seasonality and a lack of new, innovative concepts keep it from delivering its full potential in terms of growth and jobs.

The 6th edition of European Maritime Day explored the road towards innovative and sustainable forms of tourism. Discussions will feed into a Communication by the European Commission on Coastal and Maritime Tourism scheduled for later this year. Issues specific to islands, such as connectivity and mobility, were also at the heart of the Conference, while specific working groups were devoted to the future of the cruise sector, marine and coastal management and the economic development of the Mediterranean Sea basin.

On May 21, the conference was opened by several high-level keynote speakers including Ms Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mr. Karmenu Vella, Maltese Minister for Tourism, Dr Chris Cardona, Malta's Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, and Ms Catharina Elmsäter–Svärd, Swedish Minister of Infrastructure. The other plenary sessions were chaired by politicians, experts and CEOs and discussed current challenges and opportunities for the maritime economy and for Blue Growth. The day ended with a concert by internationally renowned tenor Joseph Calleja.

May 22 was Stakeholders' Day: 19 different workshops on as many with topics, for all conference participants to pick and choose. A wide range of policy initiatives related to seas and oceans were discussed. Exhibition booths were also set up at the venue and exhibitors showcased the seas and oceans and the possibilities they offer. More events were held all over Europe.

The European Maritime Day Conference was organised by the European Commission (Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) in partnership with the Maltese Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Business, and the Maltese Ministry for Tourism.

Every year on May 20 'maritime Europe' is celebrated within the European Union to showcase the importance of the seas and oceans for our everyday life. The European Maritime Day conference is now the place where stakeholders from all maritime sectors meet and discuss opportunities and challenges for the maritime regions and sectors across Europe.