Palma.—At the Palma International Boat Show in Majorca, the planned protest by all sectors of the Spanish and Balearic yachting/water sports industry reached a momentous level of volume at exactly 12.00 noon, on each day over the May bank holiday weekend.

Dozens of volunteers from the various yachting associations had spent the previous week handing out flyers and conscripting yacht owners, professional captains and all exhibitors at the boat show to join the ‘Hoot to Boot' (The Mat Tax) protest. And, as it turned out, there was no lack of enthusiasm for the action with hundreds of yachts taking part, and visitors to the boat show adding to the cacophony of sound with air horns, which were funded and distributed by various nautical association members.

Anyone who has visited Palma will know that the promenade ‘Paseo Maritimo' runs along the water front for several miles of seemingly endless moored yachts, literally thousands of them of just about every size and type from small local fishing boats (called Llauts) to megayachts like the 133 metre long Al Mirqab who has her home port at Palma's Club de Mar Marina.  Filling this huge bay from east to west with a noonday wall of sound, which politicians and the public simply cannot ignore, and doing it consistently for nine continuous days was an unprecedented feat, which the local yachting industry seems to have risen to with gusto. The decibel level was added to over the weekend with some lower frequency tones emitted by the deep unmistakable sound of large ocean going ships blowing their horns, as a visiting cruise liner and a large cargo ship also contributed their audible support.    The whole exercise has already demonstrated the huge level of frustration mingled with a degree of genuine bewilderment, at the inability of successive national and regional governments in Spain to grasp some basic economic and commercial facts. IE: The unquestionable contribution that a fairly treated yachting industry can make to business growth, employment and generation of greater tax revenues. And just as importantly, being able to do it from its own internal free enterprise generated cash, totally without government handouts or subsidies! As one observer from the industry commented to journalists at the boat show; “Its all very well to apply a luxury tax of 12%, but when you apply it to a boat which is by definition mobile at the turn of a key, or the hoisting of a sail...then it has a tendency to sail away from the tax liability to somewhere with a kindlier fiscal welcome!”   “After all,“ he said; “12% of nothing actually works out at nothing, and any politician who cannot grasp that calculation, should definitely not be entrusted to represent the electorate.” Those very politicians have more reason than ever right now to heed the sound of the yacht horns and the message behind them, as the people of the Balearics go to the polls on 22nd May to elect a new regional government for a new 4 year term.

Ignored the facts
The protesters insist that the incumbent coalition of socialists, greens and nationalists headed up by president Sr. Francesc Antich leader of the left wing PSOE party, have ignored all the facts and figures, choosing to conduct a ‘head in the sand' approach to promoting tourism in general, and nautical tourism in particular. They say that this is even more frustrating given that the Balearics are so uniquely and beautifully graced with perfect climatic and sailing conditions.  A Spanish company director selling family sized motor boats at the Palma show said; “I would love to sell Spanish built yachts to my local and international clients, but this mat tax burden has killed off any development in Spanish boat building, until there are now only a handful of yards left with the necessary skills and resources to keep going. Where as, I can get dealerships for Italian, German, British and even Polish built boats with desirable models and prices all on good commercial terms.” i For more information at
Press Officer - The Balearic Nautical Business Association.