March 12, 2009
Introducing Tony Boemi…
Tony Boemi occupies the post of Vice President, Growth and Development at Montréal Port Authority (APM). In this capacity, Mr Boemi endeavours to ensure that Montréal remains a privileged port of call for all manner of ships.
Mr Boemi, what exactly does your job entail?
My position covers the development of all requisite port services for both cargo and cruise ships. As a result, I enjoy ties with commercial shipping lines with regard to container traffic and the transport of bulk liquids and solids. The object is to ensure that the Port of Montréal remains the principal Canadian container port on the eastern seaboard of North America, as well as the preferred gateway to markets in eastern and central Canada and the American midwest.
In the cruise sector, I work upstream to attract cruise lines to Montréal and downstream with stakeholders such as Old Port Corporation and Tourism Montréal to develop original offerings for cruise operators. Montréal is an end-of-the-line port of call where passengers disembark and continue onwards by plane or train, or pursue their journey on land with tours of the city and environs. The city is also a port of embarkation for cruise aficionados interested in discovering the St Lawrence by boat.
Could you enlighten readers on your background?
I have spent the last 34 years in the marine transport industry. In 1975, I began my career with CP Ships, assuming various positions within the group, notably in customer service, sales and marketing. Then I spent a number of years as Manager, Sales and Marketing for Canada with Hapag Lloyd AG before joining the port authority in May 2008.
What fascinates you about your sector of endeavour?
A number of things, really. In addition to the diversity of my responsibilities, there is the challenge of finding new markets, attracting new clients to the port and interacting with people worldwide. I truly enjoy being a part of a growth-oriented organization and am proud to contribute to its ongoing success. Results for 2008 were impressive. The number of cruise passengers transiting through Montréal during the year indeed increased by 14% to close to 40 000!
What does the Port of Montréal offer cruise passengers?
One cannot really separate the attributes of the port from those of the city itself:
- We are an end-of-the line port with a direct link to an international airport;
- Montréal is a city steeped in history set against a decidedly contemporary backdrop;
- The city is uniquely multicultural and recognized for its wealth of artistry and creativity;
- A full 80% of passengers hail from the United States and for them, Montréal is a slice of Europe next door, a haven of multiculturalism with a distinctly French flavour.
- Then, there is the beauty of the Laurentians and Eastern Townships, each only an hour from the city.
Are there any port development projects planned that would be of particular interest to cruise operators?
In the Vision 2020 strategic plan, there are plans to build a new marine passenger terminal on Alexandra Quay and to integrate the latter into an international class recreational and tourism complex. Initial feasibility studies are to be conducted this year. In parallel, we are working together with Old Port officials and Tourism Montréal to develop theme concepts of specific interest to cruise operators.
What aspects of Montréal are most likely to appeal to cruise operators?
I would not want to forget anything… overall, I would say a stroll in the Old Port, a stop at the Science Centre and a tour of the many art galleries in Old Montréal. Then a series of visits to the lookout on Mount Royal for a magnificent bird’s eye view of the city centre, the Biodôme, Botanical Garden and numerous city centre museums. This would be followed by shopping along Ste-Catherine, St Lawrence and St Denis streets, including exploring Montréal’s 43-kilometre underground network of shops and restaurants. To wrap up: a Canadiens hockey game at the Bell Centre or an evening at the Casino…
What is your favourite Montréal restaurant?
Impossible, really, to say. What is remarkable about the restaurant scene in Montréal is the diversity of culinary genres on offer, the sheer number of fine dining establishments, and the abundance of friendly, bistro-style eateries featuring a delectable range of simpler fare. In short, it is this great diversity that I enjoy most.
Have you ever been on a cruise?
Yes, to Cancún, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica on the Triumph, operated by Carnival Cruise Lines.
Where would you like to go on a cruise?
I would love to cruise the Mediterranean.
How are you involved in promoting cruises on the St Lawrence?
I sit on a committee, together with representatives from other ports in Québec, set up specifically to promote cruises on the St Lawrence.
M. Boemi will be attending Seatrade Miami (March 16 to 19, 2009). Meet him and the team of Cruise the Saint Lawrence at booth # 843.