Minister Iago Negueruela (third right) and nautical sector representatives. | Balearic Ports Authority

The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show started yesterday and continues until Sunday. The Balearic Islands are represented in Florida, with the promotional emphases being on the Palma International Boat Show and the repair and maintenance facilities which exist in the Balearics. In Fort Lauderdale the targets for the latter are boats which spend the winter in the Caribbean and come to the Mediterranean in summer for their maintenance work.

Where the Palma show is concerned, the main aim is to look to propel it into being the leading nautical show in the Mediterranean and to therefore spread the word among potential exhibitors and professional visitors. Some 100,000 people visit the Fort Lauderdale show.

The stand in Fort Lauderdale is being shared by the Institute of Business Innovation, Balearic Yacht Destination (BYD), the Majorcan Chamber of Commerce and the Balearic Ports Authority.

At a presentation in Palma, Iago Negueruela, the minister for employment, trade and industry, said that the visit to Fort Lauderdale is the first overseas promotion by the nautical industry in collaboration with the public sector. It was, he added, the BYD group of businesses which sought the government's financial assistance and presence in Florida. For the minister, the nautical sector is one of "high value added". In the Balearics, "we are leaders in this field".

There are some 3,000 people directly employed in boat repair and maintenance in Majorca and Minorca. José Luis Roses, president of the Chamber of Commerce, noted that the Balearics have become the Mediterranean leader for repairs. Diego Colón de Carvajal of Astilleros Mallorca explained that the 3,000 could be doubled, as also could the current 400 million euros of business which is being generated.

Joan Gual, president of the Balearic Ports Authority, pointed out that plans for the ports will strengthen repair and maintenance activities in Palma, Alcudia and Mahon. In Alcudia, it was announced recently that tourist tax revenue is to be invested in a nautical training school.