Marinas attract government attention

More government officials will think about marinas’ contribution to the economy this year than last year before they make decisions that could affect the marine industry.
That was one of the goals established by the Marina Operators Association of America (MOAA) when it launched the first National Marina Day in 2002, and it appears it has been met.
With 53-percent growth in the number of marinas participating in this year’s National Marina Day (NMD), celebrated on August 9, also has come growth in the acknowledgement of and participation in the event by local, state and federal government officials.
In fact, elected officials from 18 states passed or signed resolutions or proclamations recognizing NMD.
In addition, this year’s NMD was celebrated by more than 150 marinas, many of which included speeches by local or state government representatives.
“We are hopeful that by coming to know more about marinas, the products and services found there and marina operators, the people that manage these businesses, legislators, regulators and any number of folks that would curtail or have a negative impact on these operations will make better decisions in dealing with marinas and remember to appreciate and preserve the important role that they play,” explained MOAA Executive Director Jim Frye.
This exposure also is likely to have a significant impact on the future of recreational boating as a whole, suggested Frye.
“Marinas and access points are fundamentally important to getting Americans onto the water and helping them to enjoy that experience safety and productively,” he said. “If we can promote, preserve and protect these facilities, then recreational boating has a better chance of growing and remaining a viable option for Americans seeking recreation and relaxation.”
Looking ahead to 2004
Among the goals for next year’s National Marina Day is to further grow government recognition at the highest level. While the event was recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives this year, MOAA hopes to receive acknowledgement from the White House in 2004.
MOAA also hopes to grow participation again next year; however, Frye said more important is increasing the quality of events and related outreach involved in each celebration.
For example, Frye said MOAA was pleased with the growing inclusion of charitable groups and other businesses in some marinas’ celebrations, as well as increased awareness of the event by “non-traditional sources.”
Lastly, the national association also aims to grow the number of state and regional associations supporting the program. MOAA highlighted 13 associations that assisted in the event this year.
One factor that may impact the growth of National Marina Day next year, however, is the cost to MOAA. This year, the association mailed National Marina Day kits to its members for the second year in a row, as well as offering materials online to nonmembers for the first time.
“We have hosted the program in the past through the generous donations of sponsors and will have to grow that sponsorship to grow the event,” Frye explained. “We’ll probably try to rely more on electronic communication and direct people to the materials on the Web rather than mail as many kits in the coming year. That may help mitigate the cost of reaching out to a broader group for participation.”
Sponsors of this year’s National Marina Day included ValvTect Petroleum Products, Atlantic Meeco Inc., Universal Insurance Services, EZ Dock Inc., Premier Materials Technology Inc., EMP Industries, Inc., Onyx-Mansfield Energy Services, Marinas International, Bellingham Marine Industries, Inc., Flagship Marinas, BoatU.S., ShoreMaster /GalvaFoam, Formex Floats and Boating Industry magazine.
— Liz Walz

What is National Marina Day?
The primary goal behind National Marina Day is a relatively simple one: to celebrate and communicate the positive impacts marinas have on their communities and the valuable role that they play in helping Americans to recreate on our nation’s waters.
The definition of a National Marina Day celebration is harder to nail down, however. It can be almost anything.
Some of the suggestions offered by the Marina Operators Association of America are: environmental demonstrations; charity fundraisers; youth centered events; new boat demos; fishing rodeos; boating safety demonstrations; marina open houses; tours for elected officials; speeches by public officials; a Discover Boating event; or a marina rendezvous.
Individual marinas have taken those suggestions and run with them, creating myriad of different creative combinations.
Here are a few examples:
The celebration organized by Harbour Towne Marina in Dania Beach, Fla., included Star Center safety demonstrations; a junior angler fishing clinic and derby; a junior angler education program; Coast Guard Auxiliary safety inspections; a family barbeque; face painting; and a Tradewinds Foundation program, which introduces Kids In Distress to boating.
Sandusky Harbor Marina and Lakefront Marine, based in Sandusky, Ohio, celebrated National Marina Day with games, activities and dinner for marina customers, as well as speeches by the marina owner, a state representative, a state senator, the president of the regional marine industry association and the chief of the state Division of Watercraft.
Aqualand Marina on Lake Lanier in Flowery Branch, Ga., celebrated the day through a grand prize drawing in its summer-long weekly giveaway promotion, conducted on the local radio station; autograph signing by two members of the Atlanta Thrashers; an educational boat ride for members of the Boys and Girls Club by the environmental group River Keepers; live music, a barbeque; pony rides; hay wagon rides; inflatable bouncing slides; cowboy lasso lessons; clowns; volleyball; awards for marina staff and more.

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