By Humphrey Carter
THIS week Palma will be hosting the biggest floating boat show in the Mediterranean.
The Palma Boat Show opens this Saturday and until May 8, the city will be the focal point, not only for the Balearic nautical industry, but also the international sector with market leaders in the field attending the exhibition from all over the world.

On the site of the Moll Vell (old quay) directly in front of La Lonja, this show this year is 20 percent larger .than before New floating exhibition facilities are being installed with the fair spreading along the Paseo Maritimo to include part of the fishing port.

The new floating exhibition area will be able to house 40 extra yachts of between 12 and 20 metres in length.
The Bulletin has already reported that there will be an America's Cup feel to this year's show with America's Cup Management bringing their Cup experience to Palma in the form of one of the Great Britain Challenge yachts. There will also be a multi-media America's Cup experience.

However, running parallel to the fair will be a host of workshops and talks including a conference to be given by yachtsmen Pepe Ferres and Toni Tió about the last Ruta de Sal regatta which has developed into the most popular regatta in the Mediterranean with nearly 400 yachts participating in the next event.

The Palma and Balearic authorities will also be using the fair as a showcase for Palma which is a key part of Madrid's bid to host the 2012 Olympic games. Palma will be home to the nautical events if the Spanish capital proves successful.

The boat show is also an important calendar event for the local nautical industry which for years, despite rapid growth, has been hampered by local politics and restrictions on marina and mooring expansions.

Like business in the Balearics in general, especially tourism, the nautical sector, a major employer, is facing greater and much tougher competition from new and cheaper Mediterranean destinations. Next week the local industry is expected to repeat its plea for more government and institutional help.

Bumper Bulletin boat show special will appear in next Sunday's paper.


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