The Australian International Marine Export Group (AIMEX), together with Superyacht Australia and the Australian Commercial Marine Group is pleased to announce three international keynote speakers for the upcoming annual ASMEX Conference to be held from Monday 20 May to Wednesday 22 May 2024, at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland.

Kitty McGowan, President, U.S. Superyacht Association (USSA); Theo Hooning, Secretary General, Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss); and Petros Michelidarkis, Director, Messe Düsseldorf will each present on updates and latest developments from their regions and the international impact these initiatives will have for other markets.

As an experienced industry veteran, McGowan’s list of achievements over the last 30+ years is long and impressive. Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, her role as President of USSA, McGowan successfully created a national advocacy platform that created the first U.S. large-yacht flag registry; she has also testified before Congressional Committees on critical industry issues and worked with international partners on developing regulations.

McGowan has also worked to educate the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection agencies about the economic impact of the superyacht industry that helped create relationships to ease U.S. entry for yacht crew. She has also been responsible for expanding the presence of the U.S. superyacht market internationally through the development of successful boat show events in the United States and beyond.

Theo Hooning, Secretary General, Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss) joins ASMEX 2024 from Amsterdam. Graduating as an economist, Hooning worked for several years in the automotive industry before joining the Dutch association of car and truck importers and manufacturers.

In 2007, he founded the Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss) to ensure that the unique needs of the world’s leading superyacht builders were addressed on the international stage. Sixteen years later, the association is stronger than ever with 25 members across nine countries who are responsible for 60% of yachts over 40 metres. On top of this, the association has permanent consultative status at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ensure the sector has a strong voice at the highest regulatory level.

Alongside Hooning’s role as secretary general at SYBAss, he is also the Secretary General of the Superyacht Life Foundation, the industry’s collective effort to change the conversation around super yachting by shining a light on the positive aspects that often get overlooked.

Hooning is also an advisor to the board of the Water Revolution Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to accelerate sustainability within the superyacht industry.  He also holds the role of treasurer of the recently founded Superyacht Alliance. This newly formed association in 2023 focuses on industry training and standards to raise the professional level of the workforce within the superyacht industry.  

Petros Michelidakis, Director, Messe Düsseldorf was born with a love of water sports in the cradle on the shores of the Aegean Sea in Athens. With a childhood spent in Germany, after completing his education he moved to Greece where he initially worked as a Sales Manager for a German freight forwarding company.

Gaining insights into international trade fair business through the Central Marketing Association of the German Agricultural Industry, (CMA), Michelidarkis took over as Managing Director in 1991, with their Athens branch serving markets in Greece, the Middle East, Cyprus and Turkey. In 2007, his path led him to Italy, where he looked after the countries Italy and Malta at the CMA branch office in Milan.

From 2011 to 2015, Michelidakis was the Foreign Representative for Messe Düsseldorf in Greece and Cyprus. Since 2016, he has been Director at Messe Düsseldorf, responsible for the Boating and Water Sports sector and boot Düsseldorf.

David Good, CEO, Australian International Marine Export Group said “We are excited to have three industry leaders join us this year at ASMEX 2024. Attracting top experienced marine industry members to Australia not only reaffirms the importance of global conversations at the annual ASMEX Conference, it also reflects the significance of Australia’s place in the global marine industry.”

Access information on ASMEX 2024 here

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