Small cruise ships, megayachts and tall ships in favor of the development of Rostock’s city port. From Interreg project JOHANN to Interreg project JOHANNA.

JOHANNA (joint staff qualification in South Baltic destinations to increase the skilled workforce in the South Baltic Sea) builds on the findings of the JOHANN project. The JOHANN project consortium established a new market segment “small cruise ships” in the South Baltic region. The first cruise ship calls are already taking place in the JOHANN ports. However, it has been shown that this offer can only be lastingly maintained if sufficient qualified personnel in the fields of urban development, tourism and port is available. Staff shortages are a development risk in the South Baltic region in two areas in particular: (multilingual) tourist guides and cruise managers. The latter is the central “caretaker” who coordinates all aspects of the cruise business in a city.

Therefore, it is the main goal of the follow-up project to provide further education or retraining for various institutions and groups of people, including employees and freelancers, students with tailor-made qualification and training programs, and to simultaneously develop the infrastructural environment. The focus is on the education and training of city guides on the one hand, and on the other hand on the training of universally acting “cruise port area development manager(s)”.

As city guides are mostly comparatively old and tend to imparting (pedagogically oriented) historical factual knowledge, there is a great lack of qualified city guides with entertainment/edutainment qualities, especially when it is high season and foreign languages other than English are demanded. There are hardly any city guides who are excellent at various locations in the South Baltic region; there is also a need for training in this area. We take this advice from “Grand Circle” seriously, too. This US-American operator of the small cruise liner “Clio” lets his guide(s) travel long distances with him, trains his staff in a broad range of subjects. 

Historical city harbours are managed by various and diverse administrative and operator structures. Within the project consortium, there is no city that coordinates the complex processes of inner city and harbour development or joins them under one roof. Thus, development initiatives all too often trickle away in the tangle of responsibilities, competencies, motivations… First steps into this direction can be guessed at in Sassnitz, where a cruise port manager was hired as a result of the JOHANN project’s efforts. Following the instruments “City or district manager/city or district (development) management” known from urban development, a new job description and field of application, the “City port area development manager”, is to be developed here. This expert profile which goes far beyond the tasks of a port master shall be developed in Rostock in a testing process. It could not only serve university teaching, research and science, but also accelerate Rostock’s development in the entire city harbour area.

The project methodology, which was kept rather general and abstract for approvability reasons, is now being implemented “in milestones”, half-yearly steps, by means of practical exploration and development measures. Thus, an analysis of the current situation in the city guide “scene” will be immediately started in Rostock, Wismar, Sassnitz, Stettin and Karlskrona. Afterwards, we will turn our attention to the needs of cruise companies and the providers of “city and regional tours” and then adapt the situation to the objectives via tailor-made measures. Here we make use of our product that emerged from the JOHANN project: manor houses and castles in the Rostock region are presented by Dr. Robert Uhde. The advertising medium abroad is in fact the rural area; numerous emigrants come before there and have read Johannes Gillhoff: “Jürnjakob Swehn der Amerikafahrer” (a novel about a man who migrated to America, written in 1917).

Meaningful and inviting information for travel route planners, strategists and decision-makers from the small cruise ship business are already being elaborated. An already highly qualified staff member of Rostock’s city administration shall, for instance, arouse interest in cruises with small ships along the Baltic Sea region, particularly Rostock on the cruise fair Sea-Trade Cruise Global in Miami, addressing particularly the advisors (and/or scouts) and their decision-makers. Rostock does no longer embarrass itself; the city port has been dredged. Now small cruise ships no longer have to lie in the shadow of large cruise ships at Warnemünde’s cruise port, exclusive tourist clientele could disembark exclusively within walking distance of the city center in the city harbour. In cooperation with Rostock Port and using the well-established JOHANN-JOHANNA network of Wismar, Sassnitz, Stettin, Gdynia, Kalmar and Karlskrona as well as Visby, the business contacts established in the JOHANN project are now to be intensified and enhanced at JOHANNA. Even a tourist product “Voyages with small cruise ships to the historical city ports in the southern Baltic Sea area” can be offered almost in the quality of an “All-inclusive package”.

Rostock’s invitation will be based on the long-term development of the area called “Rostocker Oval”; the city harbour will no longer have the charm of a large car park, the way along the pier into the city centre will already be an experience. The JOHANNA budget can be used to give the necessary internationality to competitions such as those relating to architecture and urban development in the city harbour area, for example by organising international specialist events before and after the event, as is was with the JOHANN project. Interpreter costs from the JOHANNA budget could also help to overcome English language barriers for Rostock residents; the prescribed official language “German” no longer necessarily has to discriminate foreign experts without German language skills. Again, an interlinking with the key project of the Regiopolis Rostock and its Regiopolis region “Internationalisation” will take place. Furthermore – as confirmed by the main committee of Rostock’s city parliament – planned remainders of the budget of the project JOHANN were used to enable the investment of a multifunctional “mobile ISPS fence in the city harbour” in December 2019 without burdening Rostock’s city budget.

The JOHANNA project will run until mid-August 2022 with a total budget of €1,467,250, of which the Rostock budget amounts to €397,000. The 15 % co-financing is provided by staff costs. The administrative work has been outsourced to an external management as far as possible.

Aerial view of the Petrikirche and the city harbour

Petrikirche & City harbour | Photo: Hanseatic City of Rostock/Photographer agency nordlicht

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