Background

Water tourism is a significant element and common potential of the recreation sector in the South Baltic area. Especially the South Coast Baltic is predestined for cooperation and exchange in this field:

  • With its interesting “mosaic” of destinations it is a marketable cross-border boating area.
  • The comparable natural and institutional pre-conditions led to analogue paths in developing marina networks.
  • The chronological “step ahead” of Germany in comparison to new member states is a good starting point for knowledge exchange and transfer, which could help the eastern regions that still lag behind in comparison to the rest of the South Baltic area.

MARRIAGE explicitly builds on results of previous projects that dealt with water tourism and marina development in the South Baltic area. It is to be seen as consequent continuation of the initiatives in the projects SUPORTNET 1 and 2 and MARITOUR that concentrated on the development of marine infrastructure and a marina networks. With these networks in place new potentials for cross border exchange and cooperation arise:

  • It allows sailing by (mostly) easy stages along the southern Baltic rim. The recent part-opening of Kaliningrad waters provides further prospects. Yet, promotion of cross-border tour opportunities or systematic attraction of foreign boaters does not take place.
  • Infrastructure investments are only a first step towards an attractive boating area. Equally important is efficient marina management that creates sufficient incomes for maintenance and good services. These issues are often neglected and have not been subject to international exchange yet, although successful practices in Germany could serve as models.
  • The development of the marina network slowed down recently. Decreasing public funding makes it unlikely that persisting gaps (e.g. at outer shores) can be filled and further densification achieved in near future. The consolidation of the network, therefore, calls for approaches that mobilise private capital and / or lower development and operating costs for new marinas.

Concerning the promotion of transnational sailing areas the experiences in the MARITOUR project made clear that the promotion of the whole Baltic Sea Region (Sail Baltic) is to diffuse for an effective marketing and that boaters are rather attracted by typical and homogenous boating regions on sub-Baltic Sea Region level. With reference to this lesson, MARRIAGE refrains from a pan-South Baltic area perspective and focuses on coast-parallel sailing along the southern Baltic rim instead.