Greetings Ferry Fans,
It’s hard to believe our 47th annual conference in Hobart has come and gone already. I hope that the 470 people or so who attended got home safely wherever on the globe that may be. By all accounts, our Tasmania experience delivered beyond expectations. So, thanks for making the extra effort to travel to the Land Down Under, and thanks again to our conference host Spirit of Tasmania and its CEO Bernard Dwyer and his team – especially Sophie Wright. I would also be remiss if I didn’t shout out to our exceptional Interferry team for a phenomenal job once again.
In this month’s report, in addition to touching on some conference highlights, I would like to provide an update on the new directors joining the Interferry Board and announce the location of our 50th conference venue slated for 2026.
Importantly, I’m also extremely proud to tell you about a domestic ferry safety seminar we will host in conjunction with the IMO in Africa next April.
Hobart Conference Highlights
Interferry2023 was held on November 4-8. Probably one of the most remote yet beautiful places on earth to organise a signature ferry industry conference, Hobart is also home to Incat, a world-leading shipbuilder of aluminium high-speed ro-pax ferries. A guided tour of the Incat shipyard was undoubtedly one of the conference’s highlights, but more on that later.
As a testament to the growing strength of the Interferry brand, the conference was completely sold out in mid-October, with more than 400 delegates and another 70 partners from all four corners of the world joining us in the Australian island state. As for the Interferry Conference program, we always strive to find a good balance between the truly different types of ferry operations, from passenger-only vessels to mammoth ro-pax and ro-ro ferries, while at the same time also embracing the ever-important supplier community. Distinguished speakers from all these sectors gathered to discuss ways to improve the customer experience and sustainability, as well as network with their peers.
The two-day conference program started with two keynotes; Australian tourism legend Rob Pennicott entertained the auditorium with a fascinating story on how he managed to create unforgettable customer experiences in Tasmania and Victoria, while Tourism Australia’s Robert Dougan shared his insights into global tourism and travel trends. New leading edge rather than bleeding edge technologies, aimed at decarbonising our industry, took centre stage during both conference days, which also included two ferry leader debates featuring panellists who reflected a representative cross section of the world’s ferry community.
FERRY LEADERS PANEL 1
FERRY LEADERS PANEL 2
Being in Tasmania, we felt privileged to have Australasia’s ‘big three’ ro-pax ferry operators on the stage: Spirit of Tasmania, KiwiRail’s Interislander and their direct competitors, StraitNZ’s Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries. Their ‘C-suite’ top management representatives shed some light on the challenges and opportunities when operating ferry services in the southern hemisphere. Notably, both Spirit of Tasmania and Interislander revealed further details of their respective ambitious newbuilding projects in Finland and South Korea.
The Incat technical tour that I mentioned earlier brought together some 300 ferry industry representatives to see the world’s largest battery electric ferry under construction. To be delivered to Uruguay’s Buquebus in 2025, the 130m wave piercing catamaran CHINA ZORRILLA will boast a 40MWh energy storage system. Kudos to the Clifford family for organising this largest-ever Interferry technical tour.
As with past conferences, we are pleased to be able to share with you a full account of the Speakers Program and presentations for our members and conference delegates. For members, go to https://interferry.com/2023-conference-presentations/. You will need to log in with your Interferry login and password.
Non-member delegates have been sent an email with a separate link and password. If you have not received this email or have trouble accessing the page, contact email@example.com.
Interferry Members Elect Five New Directors
Concurrent with the conference, we held our AGM with five new directors elected to the board. Joining for four-year terms are Nicolas Jimenez, president and CEO of BC Ferries; Seamus Murphy, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA); John Napton, CEO of Condor Ferries; and Matthew Portelli, MD of Malta-based Virtu Ferries. In addition, as host of next year’s conference, FRS Iberia/Maroc’s MD Ronny Morianna Glindemann was appointed as Interferry president for a one-year term.
Please join me in welcoming and congratulating Nicolas, Seamus, John, Matthew and Ronny, as well as recognizing and thanking outgoing directors Callum Campbell, Christophe Mathieu and Francis Portelli for their efforts in advancing the Interferry brand and influence.
Interferry2024 Conference • Marrakesh, Morocco
The overwhelming success of our last two conferences bodes well for next year’s event, which sets foot on African soil for the first time. The conference takes place in Marrakesh, Morocco from October 26-30, with the speakers program scheduled for October 28-29. More details will follow soon on our conference website.
You can view the video invitation from FRS Iberia here on Interferry.com to whet your appetite for making next year’s travel plans as soon as possible.
Interferry2026 Conference • Bangkok, Thailand
While in Hobart, we also announced Bangkok, Thailand as the location for our 2026 conference, which will be hosted by Chao Phraya Express Boat Co. and its CEO, Supapan Pichaironarongsongkram. The company is Thailand’s leading ferry operator, transporting more than 12 million passengers a year along the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. The Thai capital will welcome Interferry delegates one year after our 2025 conference in Sorrento, Italy, where Grimaldi Group will host.
As a handy reminder, here are the upcoming Interferry Conference locations and host companies:
Interferry2024 – Marrakesh, Morocco (host FRS Iberia)
Interferry2025 – Sorrento, Italy (host Grimaldi Group)
Interferry2026 – Bangkok, Thailand (host Chao Phraya Express Boat Co.)
Africa Ferry Safety Seminar • Tanzania • April 2024
One of Interferry’s key objectives remains ferry safety, notably on domestic routes in developing countries. Through our FerrySafe initiative, we have already helped facilitate a positive change in safety culture in the Philippines – and now Africa is next on our radar.
As a precursor to the Marrakesh conference, and in partnership with the IMO, we will organise a joint Africa Ferry Safety Seminar, to be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on April 16-17, 2024. We are still working out the details and will provide more information about this important seminar in due course. The seminar’s overarching objective is to promote and enable the improvement of ferry safety on the African continent.
If you are a supplier or operator interested in participating in this extremely important event, please let Johan Roos or myself know.
In closing, I would like to reiterate some of my comments during the conference’s closing ceremony. When I looked around a full room of engaged participants, I said that we should all be proud of how far we’ve come as an association through everyone’s collective efforts and support for the Interferry family. We truly are “Stronger Together”!
Take care and stay safe…
Mike Corrigan – CEO, Interferry