This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
When did Ultramar’s relationship with Interferry start and how has it evolved since then?
Ultramar’s fantastic relationship with Interferry first began in 2010 when the association’s president at the time, Tom Fox, was seeking new delegates and operators in Latin America. He found us and invited us to give a presentation in New York as an operator and we’ve been Interferry members ever since. Over the past eight years, we’ve increased our participation with the board members and the delegates and operators we meet at Interferry events. We now have a great relationship with designers, boat builders and operators worldwide and it’s all due to the networking opportunities that Interferry offers.
How did you become president of Interferry and what does your role involve?
Ultramar is the number one passenger ferry operator in Mexico and I believe the quality of our company, vessels and customer services is what ultimately led to Interferry’s former CEO Len Roueche inviting me to be president. My role as Interferry president is multifaceted – key responsibilities include enrolling new members, finding sponsors to make the association financially stronger and being an ambassador of Interferry around the world. Currently, my top priority it to host the most exciting Interferry conference ever in Cancun, Mexico this October.
In what ways is your role as Interferry president helping you to improve how you operate Ultramar, and vice versa?
Having a leadership role at both Interferry and Ultramar has certainly helped to improve how we operate our business. Ultramar wants to raise the bar and set a new, higher standard for passenger-only ferry operators worldwide and being able to network with suppliers and benchmark our services against other those provided by other Interferry members will definitely help us to do that. We can look at how other ferry operators and Interferry board members are doing things and try to use the best practices and solutions at Ultramar. I’m sure some of the other operators at Interferry and board members agree that Ultramar has a first-class operation and working together absolutely helps everyone to improve.
Why do you think Ultramar was chosen as the host for the 2018 Interferry conference and what are your key priorities in this role?
This is the first time in Interferry’s 43-year history that it has held a conference in Latin America. Although Ultramar is not the largest ferry operator, we’re certainly one of the best in both Mexico and America, and we’re striving to be the best passenger-only ferry operator in the world. I think this. Combined with the fact that we’re a fantastic Interferry member, was a major reason for Ultramar being chosen as the first Latin American host. My main priorities now are to provide the best Interferry conference to date and a memorable experience for all the delegates.
Why is Cancun an ideal host city for the conference and what is Ultramar doing to ensure the event is a success?
Mexico is the world’s sixth-best tourism destination and Cancun welcomes more than 20 million travellers per year, so we have Mexico’s best tourism infrastructure. Our airport offers a tremendous amount of flights to and from destinations worldwide – more than anywhere else in Mexico – and we have first-class restaurants and hotels, and great weather. Locals are very hospitable and offer high-quality services, which make Cancun the ideal city for the Interferry conference.
We’ve worked very hard to ensure the event will be successful. Daniela, our public relations director, has been responsible for managing many events and each one has been top class and exceeded all our expectations, so this will be no different.
What impact will Ultramar hosting the conference in Cancun have on the growth of Mexico’s ferry industry?
Having the Interferry conference in Cancun for the first time will be a tremendous opportunity to showcase both the city and Mexico as a whole. There are many new ferry routes that could potentially be opened in Mexico and I’m sure some of the many ferry companies that come to the Interferry conference will be interested in doing some business here.
Why do you think Interferry chose safety, security and the environment as the themes, and what important insights can Ultramar provide to conference attendees on these subjects?
These three topics are important for the whole passenger shipping industry, as well as for the future of humanity in general. The safety of passengers and crew is the top priority for every travel operator and Ultramar will highlight how we put safety first on our vessels. Security has also been an important topic since the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York and the ferry sector has taken inspiration from the airline industry by introducing stricter security measures. We’re implementing extreme measures for security at our terminals because we want to make sure our customers and crew are safe. Looking after the environment is also very important – we must all take care of it. At Ultramar we use biodiesel in our vessels and we try to use engines that consume less fuel so there is little contamination.
What are you most looking forward to at Interferry 2018, and why?
I’m a competitive person, so I want this to be the most exciting, spectacular and successful conference ever, especially for the delegates, Interferry members, operators and the whole ferry industry. I want to break all the records in terms of attendance, delegate satisfaction and the quality of the service Ultramar provides. My aim is to give everyone such as an enjoyable and memorable experience that they leave Cancun asking when Ultramar will host the next conference!
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