Network Marine Consultants have already reported a noticeable rise in Port State Control activity. “Port State Control inspections in Spain have been intensified this season to include most yachts over 24m and locally, in Palma, quite a few yachts over 24m have been inspected with only one yacht having a problem due to out-of-date certificates,” explains Pat Bullock, managing director, but insists that there is nothing to worry about. “The inspections are random and unannounced but not aggressive in any way. Most of the captains welcome the inspections, as they know they have to be done and are glad to get them out of the way.”
“I believe the legislation improvements are too recent and not enough,” regrets Lorenzo Vila, director of Easyboats in Mallorca. “Charter agencies, captains and owners still don’t see the current legal situation clearly. For this season, the ‘good’ news with regards to matriculation tax for charter has come too late and hasn’t really kick-started the market. It will take some time.”
“I have the sense that, on the one hand, the good news hasn’t spread enough and, on the other hand, there is a lack of trust for the authorities policing the charter legislation,” Vila adds. “Nobody wants to take the risk and fall foul. In the superyacht sector, all the captains we have dealt with who have their boats for charter, continue to embark guests in southern France because they have no certainty of the rules in Spain. This is, of course, ridiculous as the superyacht industry has a huge trickledown effect across the whole tourism sector, and Spain is missing out. Hopefully, during the Winter boat shows, things will become more clear for everybody and we will start seeing improvements in the 2015 season.”
"Authorities and politicians still have a lot to do for the yachting industry here, but the small steps they have taken are making the future look brighter.”
Marta Iglesias, charter broker at Fraser Yachts in Spain, agrees that, while she does not think the situation is driving yachts away, there is still room for improvement and time will tell as to the impact of the recent legislation changes. “It is true that the changes in the law came late and with some uncertainties, so not a lot of yachts have applied for the Spanish charter licence,” she explains. “This, however, is something that most of us already considered would happen. When a law like this changes, the yachts start adapting to it gradually, so we are likely to see more yachts registering year after year.”
“Saying that,” Iglesias continues, “While in Yachtfolio and the old MYBAnet there used to be about 15 to 20 yachts over 24m that could legally charter in Spain, now the system shows over 40, which is more than double. Out of these, close to 15 are over 35m, when before we didn’t have any over that length. I realise this is still far off the numbers of yachts that can legally charter in Italy or France, and until they totally take away all the obstacles this will never happen, but if I look at the big picture in a mid-term scenario, I am very optimistic. Authorities and politicians still have a lot to do for the yachting industry here, but the small steps they have taken are making the future look brighter.”
It appears that juridical insecurity still exists in Spain and is continuing to keep the majority of the Mediterranean charter fleet away from Spanish waters. While some hopes still remain for the 2015 season, depending on the actions of the authorities over the next year it could even be 2016 until the Spanish superyacht sector sees any real beneficial impact from the Spanish fiscal reforms.