On December 1st and 2nd 2020, the 10th edition of the International Cruise Summit took place in Madrid. Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic poses, the organizers of the event were able to gather a significant number of panelists, experts and participants who joined the interesting discussion sessions either in person in Madrid or virtually through an interactive platform. Although remote participation via Internet does not replace the personal interaction during events of this nature, the ICS platform was nicely designed, allowing not only to see the live conference at the venue, but also to interact with other attendees, speakers and sponsors through a live chat, a networking area and direct links to social media. Several members of the JOHANNA project attended the hybrid event from their respective countries.
The thematic core of the summit was undoubtedly the unprecedented situation of the worldwide cruise industry due to the impact of the pandemic, and the expectations for recovery in the near future. On the one hand, the event included a number of individual presentations, in which the speakers shared experiences of their companies or destinations and the strategies they have applied during these challenging times. On the other hand, experts participated in panel discussions for an in-depth analysis of topics related to the rebuilding of the industry, the development of operations in the “new normal” and further perspectives for the future.
One of these panel sessions dealt with the small ship sector, exploring current issues on how to get back to business and examining future prospects. Despite the panelists shared their experiences and outlooks from a global perspective (and not specifically focused on destinations on the South Baltic), this session was particularly interesting for our JOHANNA project, since this gave us hints on areas that perhaps were not explored before or not considered as especially relevant for the education of cruise coordinators and tour guides, however, they might gain greater importance in a post-pandemic industry.
In the same way, the conclusions of the panelists on perspectives for the future of the small ship sector leave us optimistic about the opening of new markets and destinations for small and medium-sized vessels, as well as the expansion of the expedition business and the increasing interest of tourists to explore off-the-beaten paths and remote destinations, which may be only reachable by small ships. We enjoyed very much our participation in the summit and are looking forward to, hopefully next year, be able to exchange thoughts and insights of our project with colleagues and experts at this event in a face-to-face setting.