This, the 6th annual conference of its kind, and the 4th successive one to be held at the Nixe Palace Hotel, was opened yesterday with welcome speeches by Marga Dahlberg on behalf of the local nautical associations, and by Kate Mentink on behalf of the new Partido Popular government.
Marga is President of the Balearic Nautical Business Association (AENB) which has been busy with all the other trade bodies in getting the attention of politicians to the enormous potential for growth, revenue and job creation from yachting and superyachts, highlighting it as a contributor to the Balearic tourism industry.
In her welcome to a room packed with delegates from Superyacht Management companies from all over the world she said: Along with all of the Balearic nautical trade associations we have been very busy during this past year lobbying the authorities and raising public awareness of the punitive 12% matriculation tax which is uniquely applied only in Spain and in no other EU country. You may have seen details of the hoot for yachting' protest that we organised during the Palma Boat Show.
The timing of this was perfect as it coincided with local elections in the Balearics, which resulted in a change of government. They have since signalled their clear intention to work with us in eliminating the tax along with other non-competitive legislation and practices that have burdened our industry for many years. Kate Mentink came with a personal message from Jose Ramon Bauza. In this he reiterated his commitment to helping the yachting industry in Spain work from a level playing field, and to realise the growth that it is poised to take on, from such a well established marine services infrastructure in the Balearics.
Kate also made reference to the work that the PP has done by talking closely with the nautical sector, which had helped them to produce a detailed commitment to yachting in their manifesto. For instance, one of the main points was to continue consultation with the yachting professionals locally in order to get sound data that can be delivered in Madrid. With this it is intended to illustrate in an irrefutable way, the job creating, and tax/ revenue generating potential from one of the worlds genuine growth markets.
Conference Chairman Paul Miller, who is also presiding over the forum for the fourth time, mentioned that he had seen tremendous progress with the lobbying by the nautical associations between his annual visits to Palma. He said; What seemed to be a gloomy story a few years ago with the associations banging their heads against walls, is now looking like a real turnaround in the making, and a boost for the superyachting industry as a whole, particularly if it soon opens up Spanish waters to larger charter yachts and all the spin off revenues that they bring with them. The keynote speech of the conference was delivered by Billy Smith, the Vice President of major US yacht builder Trinity Yachts. He talked about the importance of diversification in order to survive in shipbuilding since the recession, and how innovative engineering and a high quality skills base keeps the business for superyachts with the established yards in Europe and America, rather than losing it to low labour cost countries. He concurred that an urgent updated economic study is needed to present to governments (not only in Spain but globally) that will prove the much misunderstood connection between the wealth investment in high value yachts, and its significant economic spin offs.
He said; By this I mean in terms of jobs, new businesses, tax revenues and all the attendant benefactors of a global growth industry. He emphasised this with a statistical fact that has been established in the USA, when he said; For every job created in the building of yachts the ripple effect will create at least seven more in the wider support infrastructure! He also mentioned that of the number of wealthy individuals in the world who could afford a superyacht, only around 5 percent actually do so! The next speaker of the morning was Norma Trease a well known figure in the yachting world, who is on the boards of The Professional Yachtsman's Association and The International Superyacht Society.
Norma illustrated very adequately with several examples, why there is significant cause for optimism regarding the future growth of the large yacht industry.
Firstly the yachting associations with which she is involved, has seen a large increase in membership in the last year or so, and this development is largely connected with an increase in new build superyachts across the world.
Secondly, many businesses involved in crew placement and yacht management are very busy and expanding.
Additionally the number of marinas and specially organised regattas for superyachts are increasing year on year. Norma mentioned Port Adriano in El Toro and Marina Ibiza as local examples of this.
To end her presentation Norma asked; What of the future? To which she had her own answer by simply saying; Our duty as an industry is to make owners happy to own yachts. They will then spend more and create jobs, businesses and tax revenues. The conference continues today.