Palma.—The debate over what to do with the former royal Spanish yacht which King Juan Carlos of Spain gave up last month continues, with the Balearic government this week backing a proposal put forward by local opposition parties that the yacht be sold and the money raised used to help the needy and socially marginalised in the Balearics.

But, a Balearic business group has demanded King Juan Carlos return the 21-million-euro yacht they gave him after he asked the government to take it off his hands as the country weathers a biting recession - each refuelling of the yacht costs more than 20'000 euros.

Last year, the Royal Family announced they would reduce their annual budget by 100'000 euros to 8.3m euros with King Juan Carlos and his heir Prince Felipe announcing they would take a pay cut of 7 percent, broadly in line with the public sector wage cut, imposed by Spain's conservative government.

The Royal Palace also announced that it would open their household accounts for public scrutiny.
The Balearic Tourism and Cultural Foundation last week sent a letter to the National Heritage department which manages state assets used by the royals to ask that it return the 41.5-metre (136-foot) yacht Fortuna, which, with nearly three million euros of public funds donated by the then Partido Popular-run local government, they gave the king in 2000. “The decision to give the yacht was taken so that his Majesty, the King and the Royal Family could use it,” the group said in the letter.
However, senior sources in the Balearic nautical industry have told the Bulletin that they have written to the Foundation suggesting that the money raised from the sale of the former royal yacht be used to build a maritime museum in Palma. “The museum has been planned for years and with so many historic Balearic vessels having been restored by the various local authorities over the years and all the old yachts hidden away under Bellver Castle, all these vessels need a home where they can be seen by the general public,” the Bulletin was told. “Most of the classic Majorcan yachts, which have been resorted by the Council of Majorca and the like, are now just moored up doping nothing, so why not sell the yacht and invest that money into a maritime museum which itself will generate money and help diversify tourism in the capital?”