- The Superyacht Forum - Billions in the Balearics

By SuperyachtNews

Billions in the Balearics

Some key findings have emerged in a report, revealing insights into the billion-euro local nautical sector at the inaugural Balearic Superyacht Forum…

The Balearic nautical sector's significant economic impact, generating over a billion euros annually, stood out as a key highlight during the debut of the Balearic Superyacht Forum yesterday (24 April). Held at the Palma Auditorium, the event convened more than 300 industry stakeholders, unveiling insights from a comprehensive report by the Balearic Marine Cluster.

According to the report, the local maritime sector encompasses 879 companies, generating €1.106 billion in annual revenue and creating 5,145 jobs, with a yearly growth rate of 4.26 per cent.

“The nautical industry in the Balearic Islands, representing 3.1 per cent of the Balearic Islands’ GDP, is not only an integral part of our local economy but also a symbol of our identity and culture,” Toni Salom, President of the Balearic Marine Cluster, stated in his opening speech.

“This leadership position confers upon us great responsibility and even greater opportunity, as we aim to become the most sustainable, intelligent, high-quality and service-oriented yachting hub in the Mediterranean.”

This is the first time that a complete and exhaustive overview of the sector has been revealed, highlighting the consolidation of the Balearic Islands as a hub of nautical activity in the Mediterranean.

Based on 2022 data, the study reveals that industrial activities (repair and maintenance, shipyards and dry docks) account for nearly a third of companies (282), over 40 per cent of revenue (€459.38 million) and employ 2,475 workers.

Recreational nautical services, on the other hand, represent around 40 per cent of companies (337) but less than a quarter of revenue (€261.61 million) and sector jobs (1,234).

The average size of companies is relatively small, with about 40 per cent generating less than €300,000 in revenue and around 60 per cent having fewer than five employees. However, it is worth noting that over 40 per cent of revenue and a third of total employment are concentrated in just over 20 companies, indicating significant polarisation between larger and smaller enterprises.

Another notable finding in the report is that the average salary in the nautical sector (€32,000 per year) is significantly higher than in other industries such as tourism, food, and furniture. The refurbishment, maintenance, and new construction segment is the most highly compensated activity, with wages 10 per cent higher than the sector average.

In terms of distribution, 76 per cent of nautical companies are located in Mallorca (45 per cent in Palma), particularly in the maintenance and refurbishment segment, while Ibiza holds a strong position in nautical tourism and recreational boating.

Jaime Martínez, Mayor of Palma, highlighted the sector’s strength with 210 vessels registered in the Balearic Islands during the first quarter of the year and emphasised the dynamism of nautical companies owing to their diversity, professionalism and quality services.

As the Forum progressed, Clara del Moral, Insular Director of Tourism for the Council of Mallorca, stated that events like the Balearic Superyacht Forum represent a committed effort to innovation and sustainability, contributing to harmony between residents and tourists.

Crucial issues such as environmental sustainability, new construction technologies, maintenance and operations were the focal points of discussion at the Forum yesterday, as well as a focus on the necessary collaboration between the private sector and local authorities to ensure environmentally friendly growth.

In the first panel discussion, moderated by Martin Redmayne (Chairman of the Superyacht Group), participants including Diego Colón, CEO of Astilleros de Mallorca; Toni Forteza, CEO of Ocibar; Mar Vera, Head of Expansion and Sustainability at Alcudiamar; Belén Martín, Partner at Evolution Yacht Agents; and Legalley+'s lawyer, Miguel Angel Serra, highlighted the strengths of the nautical industry.

They echoed data presented earlier, showcasing the international acclaim of the Balearic Islands for boat repair and maintenance services, their appeal as a nautical tourist destination and their robust business ecosystem marked by quality, efficiency, safety and flexibility in superyacht services.

However, they also noted space constraints in ports and shipyards, stressing the need for infrastructure investments to accommodate specific segments, notably maintenance of vessels over 70 metres, reflecting the growth in the superyacht market.

Diego Colón concluded that future challenges include enhancing infrastructure, productivity and innovation. Toni Forteza highlighted the industry's substantial growth potential during the summer season, while Mar Vera addressed professionals' needs working on the Islands.

Belén Martín stressed safety and navigation traffic regulation consensus, while Miguel Angel Serra emphasised improving Spain's fiscal framework compared to competitors like France or Italy. Pedro Suasi, Manager of the Balearic Marine Cluster, advocated motivating new generations for sustainable sector growth and enhancing its social positioning.

The second panel of the forum featured the President of the Spanish Golf Course Association, Luis Nigorra; the Operations Director of Evolution Yacht Agents, Xisco Notario; the Director of Engel & Volkers Mallorca, Hans Lenz; Michelin-starred chef Marc Fosh; the CEO of the Auditorium, Marcos Ferragut; and superyacht captain Carsten Franik.

The panellists shared their experiences in the Balearic Islands, expressing their passion for the archipelago’s nature, culture and society. They highlighted its geographical positioning, tourist infrastructure, healthcare services and security forces.

Key topics addressed included the lack of housing for locals and maritime professionals, the need to extend the tourist season with direct connections to Nordic countries and France during the winter and improving public perception of tourism.

The Balearic Superyacht Forum continued in the afternoon with a conference on the challenges of artificial intelligence in nautical affairs featuring active participation from the audience and presented by María Jesús Casado of Omniaccess and Fabrizio Ottini of Yachtmind. The first day of the forum concluded with an interactive workshop addressing the challenges of the superyacht industry.

Today (25 April), the first keynote dissects the future of refit in Palma with insights from the Balearic Marine Cluster's study on Palma’s capacity to attract significant repair and maintenance projects.

A group workshop at noon will explore the upcoming global challenges posed by the evolving industry's Sustainable Development Goals. Strategies to adapt and avoid being left behind will be discussed. The final workshop at features presentations from five meticulously selected start-ups, outlining their projects and strategic plans to a panel of industry experts.

Following the closing address, attendees are invited to a VIP experience at the Palma International Boat Show. This year marks a special edition of the event, commemorating 40 years of defining the international nautical calendar and inaugurating the Mediterranean superyacht season.

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