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Bright future for cargo and passenger logistics on the Baltic

What is the future perspective for the Baltic Sea connections? Attendees at Baltic Ro-Ro and Ferry Conference 2008 are quite optimistic about the future business stating that it’s far away from the crisis. – Tourism is getting more popular and has a great potential – says Ats Joorins, Vice Managing Director of Tallink Silja.  He observes great marketing activities of the countries in the Baltic Sea Region which attract more and more tourists every year. Tallink Silja, one of the market leaders,  invests in new cruise lines and boats.- The capacities will definitely go up – states Joorins. – We observe a 4% percent growth in cruise tourism and an increase of interest in ‘triangle destination model’- he continues. New destinations are being taken to consideration but sometimes cruisers are dependent on the logistics and other obstacles. Cruises to St. Petersburg would definitely raise tourists interest but expensive visas and long process of arranging formalities still keep cruisers away from this destination. Political and economical stability is also crucial for the development of passenger logistics. ? Even terrorism may bring us down – claims Joorins – a key to success for cruisers is to have local partners. That’s why Polferries is so successful on the Polish market.

„Rail ferries – outdated solutions or prospects for the future” – a speech presented  by Frank M. Havemann from Scandlines Deutschland GmbH. This topic also brings optimistic statements that there is definitely more chances than risks for this form of transportation. Western Europe gives a lot of possibilities to develop solutions for rail transportation but there is still a lot of issues which need to be improved. – The problem is that the infrastructure is not developed to keeping in times – he says – Covering a distance from Finland to Spain is nearly impossible because of bad motorways-. Average transportation speed reaches only 20km per hour. A must for all is at least 50/ 60 km an hour. Language barrier for rail transportation is also worth mentioning. Crossing the boarders and switching railways occurs to be quite a problem when it comes to communicating with the crew. As one of the most important changes Frank Havemann points at the removal of national and international restrictions and quicker implementation of concepts and system solutions.

Optimistic view on the market was continued with the speech of Christel Wiman, the CEO of Ports of Stockholm (Conference Partner). So far they operate 27 vessels and 31 000 passengers a day. The figures show that there is 760 different businesses in Sweden and the international trade goes more global. One of the reasons is the constantly increasing distance between export and import areas. For instance, the suppliers of Volvo S40 are located all around the world and the car parts require transportation. Ports of Stockholms’ main directive is to secure and develop good terms and conditions for the Shipping Industry in order to secure logistic systems for consumer goods and to support competitiveness for the Business Community. – We see a bright future most of the time and continue to be ready when the economies start grow again – says Christel Wiman. Ports of Stockholm concentrate on developing all the ports to adopt them to the needs of the Baltic Sea market.

Although the crisis also Viking Line concentrates on market development in a declining economic situation, development of bunker oil price and environmental requirements, which regard stricter emission rules. Tuomas Nylund from External Communications & Corporate Affairs  underlines the importance of the environmental aspect. New vessel such as Viking XPRS, delivered in April 2008  are featured with the innovative environmental techniques and catalytic converters on all engines. – The passenger transportation will be stable in spite of the financial crisis – says Nylund. Viking Line planned a 20 Million EUR investment to up-grade their fleet although it consists of seven vessels, which are well adapted for combined passenger and cargo services.

Polish market doesn’t seem to be worried about the recession either. During the first session we could here about the development strategy of Port of Gdansk. One of the most important investments for Port of Gdansk Authority, worth 350 Million EUR (partly financed by the European Union) is Sucharski Route and tunnel under the Vistula estuary. The main objective is to communicate the port infrastructure with the national road network and to cut short the travel time. Estimated time of implementation covers years 2009-2014. – So far Gdynia is the biggest Polish container terminal but DCT (Deepwater Container Terminal) in Gdansk has a good perspective to be the biggest in the near  future- says Julian Skelnik, Marketing Director of Port of Gdansk Authority.

Poland was also represented by Polferries, a market leader with 45% shares in passenger carriage between Poland and Scandinavia in 2007. Looking at the nationalities Polferries’ customers are in 79% Polish and only 9% of them is Swedish. The most popular time of a year for traveling on a ferry is between June and August. Approximately 80% of passengers are aged between 25- 60. The age difference is quite broad which is why Polferries has prepared a versatile and varied offer to meet their needs. Clients can choose from sightseeing and relaxation such as SPA, golf or horse riding packages. There is a special offer for school children and original chance for business to organize conference or a training on a ferry. Polferries has been granted with many prizes and awards. Jacek Bochnak, Managing Director of Polferries AB asked to name one of the most important prizes modestly underlined the Silver Herring award from Saving Human Life at Sea “May Day” Foundation.

image: www.sxc.hu

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