Marina Menu

The initiative “Marina Menu’ introduces a new way of thinking about marina’s. It is a useful tool for economic and spatial policy making and thus creating opportunities for water sport development.

An initiative of Robert Holmes, Monica de Vast, Rob Vrolijks, Research Centre for Coastal Tourism and HISWA.

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Marina Menu – Background

“There is not just one kind of marina!” That’s what Rob Vrolijks, Robert Holmes and Monica de Vast decided at the end of the sector discussion on recreation and tourism in the Dutch South-West Delta on 12th November 2009.

“Separately from each other and on different platforms we had all run up against this problem,” according to Robert Holmes. “But when we met each other at this sector discussion it was confirmed yet again.” Monica de Vast observes that whenever the economic development of coastal and nautical regions is involved, the discussion logically turns to the development of marinas. But it is striking that everybody has their own frame of reference in mind. For instance, when the development of a marina in the vicinity of a restaurant was under discussion, one participant thought about a pier for temporary mooring, while another immediately translated the same marina development into hundreds of berths.

“This was clearly a case of comparing apples and oranges,” says Rob Vrolijks. “But it does show that there are misunderstandings about marina development concepts.”

“We see it as a challenge to get rid of this confusion tongues,” says Robert Holmes. “We wanted to see how far we could get, using our own knowledge and experience, in unpicking the concept of “marina” and coming up with unambiguous terms and images.” The initiators spent a few days together in the summer of 2010 to sort out types with the help of harbour/marina guides, navigation charts, their own knowledge, articles about water sports development and new ideas. The next step was to add information about space, economy, facilities, kinds of water and types of boats. Sometimes this resulted in types being merged, but sometimes they had to split types because of differences. “Initially we thought we would make it with 20 types. That it turned out to be 50 surprised us enormously. The final version contained 51, but we thought 50 was a better number,” the initiators admit.


Regional level
A watersports area comprises a system of waterways and sailing opportunities, combined with destinations that are worth visiting, places boats can leave from and a touristic hinterland. The quality of the water sports area is formed by the variety that the relevant types of marinas also provide. It’s this “menu” that has to be complete. On a larger regional scale an investigation could look into the types of marinas necessary to achieve the objectives. That is a job for further interpretation at basin level or sailing route level. It is not meaningful to think of restraints at this regional level, because restrictions in capacity, possible pressure on nature reserves and the relationship with the commercial shipping sector will have been indicated already at basin level or sailing route level.

Basin or sailing route
A basin or sailing route is sometimes a sailing destination in itself for short trips or a short stay and sometimes a part of a larger whole. It is essential to decide on the (desired) use of a specific basin or route to decide which types of marinas are possible or necessary. Using the marina types tool helps you determine in more detail which sorts of development are appropriate in the area, the objectives and the restrictions of an area. You can specify which types do have a chance in an area, instead of restricting all the types of marinas in their development.

Town level Innumerable Dutch towns have been established at the water’s edge and boast one or more harbours. Now that commercial shipping is leaving the old inner town harbours, towns are looking for new ways to fill the gap created, sometimes in combination with town development in the direct vicinity. Towns with a lot of water are also wondering how they could put the water they have to (even) better advantage. Marina types can be helpful in this too. By bringing together existing users and already existing and new objectives the appropriate types can be defined. Often this will be the basis for relocations, so that visually attractive and touristic functions will use the primary town marinas and space will be sought elsewhere for types with a more internal focus.

Businesses Marina types are intended especially as inspiration for businesses. They can help with deciding the appeal of existing activities and the problems this may throw up. The marina types can also give insight into the nature of the functions that are better matched to the existing business surroundings.

The added value of Marina Menu

The development of water recreation is on the agenda of many policy-making meetings, because it is a sector with growth potential. And yet the discussion stalls if the development of a new marina is raised, partly because everyone talks from their own frame of reference, experience, supporters and interests. The objective of Marina Menu is to realise an unambiguous idiom, making it possible to have a discussion that focuses on the future.

It is a tool that can be used to better balance the sorts of marina development against the sorts of environments in future organizational problems.

Working out various types of marinas in all their varieties and working out spatial conditions makes it possible to look for those types of marina that have a chance of developing. The complete manual (available in Dutch) and the corresponding database illustrate a wealth of potential directions for development. Various directions for solutions on a menu, as it were. The tool can serve as inspiration for policymakers, developers, town planners and marina operators.

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