Modern and attractive small ports network by SmartPorts

By Ester Miiros-Hollsten, Contact Point Åland
Published on 6.7.2018
Type of content: Interview

In English

Many partners - many small harbours

Project SmartPorts 2015-2017 worked for improvements in Baltic Sea small harbours. Thanks to 15 partners several ports in Latvia and Estonia, one in Åland and two in Sweden were involved. The improvements consisted of an interactive information system and network, joint marketing, increased service quality and new floating piers, waste water treatment and safe navigation.
Jaano Martin, the project manager for the Lead Partner, Estonian Small Harbour Development Center, said the project planning began with finding the right partners with the same interests and values.
- Cross-border cooperation allows exploiting the advantage of the opportunities that greater cooperation provides. It also gives an access to the bigger market and opportunities to increase the level of tourism but also to transfer knowledge and experience between the harbours.

According to Jaano common goals and motivation are the success factors for cross-border projects.

What have you done in this project?

- Investments were made to improve safe navigation and docking services of the small ports. We also increased environmental awareness and improved harbour services through installation of waste handling systems. One harbour in Estonia added solar panels, so they are now independent and can send the energy they don’t need and get it back in wintertime. In average they have become electrically independent.
There are a lot of small success stories in details. Joint marketing tools and information system was launched and cooperation between the harbours worked well.
Visitors have registered via the self-service kiosk, and they are positively surprised, when there are no people around and they still feel themselves welcomed. My contact number is on the screen, and I receive a lot of positive feedback. I can see that our idea of self-service kiosks is working.
We reached end-users by sharing tourist information about the regions where the marinas are and by producing joint marketing materials as leaflets. The project partners also attended exhibitions and boat fairs.

- It is a pity that a nice project like this soon will be over, says Jaano during the last period of the project, autumn 2017.

But we have more than one follow- up activity, he continues. So, in one form or the other, the activities go on. The improvements we made now will continue with investments and events in the next project, an Est-Lat project. We are going on with the same work, part of the team will remain, part will change. I think we all became more experienced and smarter during this project, and I am sure the resources were not wasted but invested.

What are you most proud of, Jaano?

- I am most proud of the outcomes of the project and our good partnership, and the partnership will continue. An improved network of small harbours will remain when the project is over. We also launched the Hello Port system, this for safe and easy marina booking.

Comments from two project parters

Jonas Davidson works for the Stockholm Archipelago Foundation and was involved in SmartPorts only during the last project period due to changes of personnel, and he thinks cross-border cooperation is very natural for people around the coasts.

- We have always been sailing to each other in the Central Baltic region.

The improvements in the Swedish ports have been a new dwell for fresh water on one island and a new service building in the other.
- The first offer was far too expensive, but now I think we have found a good solution. It will make a big difference for the visitors.

Kennet Lundström is working for one of the smallest municipalities in the world (less than 100 inhabitants) on the island of Sottunga in the Åland archipelago.

He is satisfied with the project results as the municipality has done everything according to plan within the budget: a comprehensive harbour plan, a webcam showing the status and free spots in the harbour, three small service sheds for local entrepreneurs, a renovated restaurant, improved parking and harbour area with outdoor tables and barbeque facilities for visitors.
He is sure the improved services will attract more visitors.

And that is what we all want to happen. One-year statistics are not enough for follow-ups, as the weather conditions directly affect sailing and archipelago tourism. Good luck, and safe travels!