ETA 56th Annual Meeting was another success for the Association. More than 125 delegates and guests attended the annual event, which took place this year for the first time in Cyprus, in the city of Limassol.
This success proves the strength and ambition of the European towage industry, which in spite of the current market and regulatory challenges remains the most competitive globally. Moreover, the clockwork organisation would not be possible without the hard work of our host, Vassiliko Terminal Services, nor the ETA´s associate members commitment and sponsorship.
As in previous years, the Annual Meeting provided an excellent occasion for its attendants to deliberate on the latest developments in the sector and strengthen the personal and professional links between the ETA´s members.
During the three days, both the Executive Committee and the Annual General Meeting delegates discussed crucial issues for the Association as the possible internationalization of its structure or the review of the EU Consortia Block Exemption Regulation. The Annual Meeting also saw the end of Leendert Muller´s tenure as ETA Chairman, who passed the baton to Kimmo Lehto as the Head of the Association. Mr. Lehto will lead the ETA for the next 2 years and shall have the assistance of Vicente Boluda Ceballos as ETA´s new Deputy Chairman.
The new ETA Chairman, Captain Kimmo Lehto is a Master Mariner with over 37 years’ experience in the shipping industry. He has been with the Finnish towage, salvage and icebreaking company Alfons Håkans over 11 years and is currently part of the management team and a salvage master. As a former Captain of cruise ships and with over 10 years’ experience as a Maritime Pilot in Finland, he has extensive experience at both ends of the tow line.
The Annual General Meeting participants could also welcome the new ETA member delegates representing Donmar, EDT Offshore and Zouros Group which have made the ETA membership reach the record number of 88 full members in 26 European countries. Moreover, 6 new associated members joined ETA (Navigator Shipping Consultants, Steerprop, Tugpins, Samson Ropes, Rotortug and the ABR Company). These new additions expand the membership not only in numbers but also in sectors including shipyards, marine supplies and shipbrokers.
The Annual General Meeting was followed by the ETA Conference “Challenges and trends in Ports and Shipping“ which brought together policy makers, shipowners and port managers and tug designers. The conference acts as a catalyst for debate with key stakeholders in the maritime and shipping sector and as a perfect opportunity to identify and address the current trends affecting the maritime logistical chain.
The Conference was opened by Nastasa Pilides Cyprus´ Deputy Minister of Shipping who described the different initiatives and programmes the Cypriot government is implementing to make the island a maritime hub in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.
Günther Bonz, Feport President and Managing Director of Eurogate analysed in depth the many challenges affecting ports and the port services industry. Mr Bonz addressed especially the impact of big lines on the sector and how the review of the Consortia Block Exemption Regulation could change the negotiation leverage in the logistics chain.
Reginos Tsanos, Chairman of RPT group described the different changes the industry has been adopting during the last decade to keep its competitiveness in the global market.
Dirk Degroote, Product Manager at Damen, focused his presentation on the technological challenges affecting the tug sector as the digitalization and automation of towage operations, and how skills acquisition will be essential to keep the efficiency of the industry.
Click on the speaker´s names to download the presentations. You can view a short summary video of the Conference clicking here.
The Annual Meeting´s highlight was the Gala Dinner, which this year took place in a unique location, the Oenu Yi winery, towering over the Omodos valley. This brand new facility with magnificent views over the main wine producing area of the island is the seat of the Vassiliades winery, the most prestigious Cypriot wine maker. ETA delegates and guests had a wonderful token of Cypriot hospitality and the finest gastronomy in the most charming venue of the island. As every year, the ETA family enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere and dance long through the night.
The Annual Meeting was brought to a close with the traditional Social Day. As in every edition, Friday is dedicated to informal networking. This year´s Social Day was unique, because ETA members could not only enjoy a wonderful boat trip by the Limassol bay but also swim in its crystalline waters. The summery trip was completed with an excellent traditional lunch at To Kipriakon in the recently renewed Limassol old harbour.
The ETA Secretariat thanks all delegates, guests and speakers for their attendance and active participation in a successful 56th Annual Meeting. Furthermore, we want to express our immense gratitude to all sponsors for their contribution which made possible the organization of our annual event. Finally, ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ to our host VTS for its tireless help and expertise which made this Annual Meeting an occasion to remember.