By Peter Franklin - AENB –EU Work Group Secretary
FOR many years the AENB under it's President Margarita Dahlberg has defended the rights and championed the cause of 100 or so members, who come from all sectors of the multi faceted and rapidly growing leisure marine industry in the Balearics.

Everything that floats, from a surfboard to a superyacht and the hundreds of companies that sell, service and maintain them, make up a significant regional revenue earning and job creating industry.

This has justifiably developed because of the special natural attributes that the Balearic islands offer for pursuing all kinds of yachting and water sports activities.

Yacht owners, charterers, sailing regatta enthusiasts, and thousands of professional crew onboard hundreds of large luxury yachts either visit the islands regularly, or indeed make their permanent home here, all contributing financially to the regional economy.

The fact that so many of these clients, visitors and service providers are from outside of Spain indeed from all parts of Europe and beyond, makes it vitally important that the AENB reflects the same international mix and varied professional influence within its membership.

For the past two years the Association has been actively engaged in attracting more foreign managed marine companies who are registered for business purposes in the Balearics, with some degree of success.

In 2009 an EU working group was formed with nine active members including Sra. Dahlberg the President, and with three bilingual representatives on the main board. Although this is primarily an English-speaking forum, it has members from Germany, Holland, Argentina, Britain and of course Spain. On Friday, April 30, another milestone was reached when the Association's EU work group hosted a cocktail party at Ca'n Eduardo restaurant in Palma.

The idea of this was to invite entrepreneurs from a number of foreign managed Spanish companies, allowing them to network with existing members and to be appraised of the benefits of becoming AENB members, in a friendly and informal setting.

The event, held on a roof top terrace in warm spring sunshine was attended by British-born Calvia Councillor Kate Mentink, who has been a champion and fervent supporter of tourism in the Balearics for many years. Kate came along with her colleague John Lambourne in their respective capacities of President and VP of EporE (Europeos Por España)
Europeos por España was set up by a group of European citizens living in the Calvia area to help improve knowledge among non-Spanish European residents of local political issues.

Kate Mentink said at the meeting; “ We are highly aware of the significant financial and job creation impact that yachting and water sports have on our local economy. We are very happy to help the AENB in raising important issues about the sector's future developmental growth to the highest political level within the local authorities, and also in Madrid and Brussels.

The Associations President Margarita Dahlberg, made a short address to the invited guests in which she said; “Somebody once said that the word TEAM means; Together Everyone Achieves More, and that is indeed the case with our association. The more members with active participation we have, the more representatives from different sectors, like charter, repair, maintenance, brokerage and marinas, we have, then the more we can help everyone. “We need this breadth of support in numbers to make an impression on the authorities. And of course our many activities, which are always to protect our industry, do cost us money. So the small fee you pay to be a member, and your active participation are both equally important to us!” At the end of the evening, which was very well attended, the association took signed membership application forms from 16 nautical companies who decided to join immediately.

These were from a variation of disciplines within the sector such as: Yacht Charter, Sea Schools, Marine Medical Specialists, Yacht Surveyors, Provisioning, Yacht Maintenance, Repairs and Engineering.

Marga Dahlberg said in conclusion; “For us to gain this new influx of enthusiastic and multi skilled members, from across the spectrum of foreign managed Spanish businesses … in addition to the ones which have joined us over the last two years is very satisfying indeed! “Our membership now has a ratio approaching 1:1 of Spanish nationals to those from various other EU countries. “I truly believe that this is good for all of our members, and for the future of the leisure marine industry in the Balearics.”