This author reflects on an incredibly successful Palma Boat Show and the future of yachting in the Balearics……
The general vibe of the Palma-based yachting community is one of excitement, eagerness and anticipation, with perhaps a dash of frustrated impatience thrown in the mix as well. I’m confident that in the next five to ten years we will look back on this period as Palma’s great age of transition. Palma is of course already a well-established industry hub with a rich history in yachting, but now the wheels are in motion for the Balearics to become not just a hub, but a stellar example of how the yachting world can fit into a sustainable, innovative and prosperous future.
The success of the Palma International Boat Show encapsulated how healthy the state of the Balearic yacht market really is. The event provided an environment to express some of the pent up energy deriving from a lacklustre PIBS 2021 which suffered from heavy COVID-19 restrictions - the organisers claim that over 25,000 visitors attended this year's show, an increase of 30% over the last year. In addition, it should be remembered that 28% of the exhibitors are companies that have participated for the first time, resulting in an increased variety on offer. Moreover, some 350 journalists from around the world were accredited to cover the event.
The first thing that many visitors might have noticed upon entry is the sheer number of sailing superyachts - something which has been lacking in some other similar yachting events. The organisers claim that this event has been characterised as having the largest exhibition of sailing yachts in the whole of Europe. With that being said, the hybrid and electric boat segment also appeared to be in fine form, in line with the Balearic's commitment to sustainable solutions.
One can’t consider the future of the region without noting the work being done by Balearic Marine. The organisation is not only on a mission to promote the Balearic islands and the businesses within them, but to also carry the industry into the digital realm and champion the investment of sustainable solutions. At a press conference in the Nivea Hotel, the organisation revealed the latest version of their website Balearicmarine.org which serves as a hub for all superyacht stakeholders of the industry in the Balearic region.
The website acts as a directory for seafarers and shore-side stakeholders, a showcase of educational opportunities and job offers, and a news feed of the latest relevant conferences and events. However, perhaps the most well-received feature on the site is the Posidonia map which helps captains and owners park their yachts safely without harming the precious eco-system. Stakeholders have been keen to promote the conservation of the Posidonia meadows of the Balearic Islands, which are protected by decree 25/2015, of July 28. The decree establishes that all vessels must anchor on sandy bottoms and that both the anchor and the chain must always be outside the meadows of this marine plant characteristic of the entire Mediterranean.
In just a few year's time, Palma will develop new and improved refit and repair infrastructure as well as a completely revamped marina in Club De Mar. The beating heart of the Balearics is soon to be a superyacht location that can better manage and keep up with the ever-increasing demand and quality standards of clients and owners, and that's a prospect that justifies the yachting communities' sense of giddy anticipation.
With the development of the usual hotspots around the Balearics, there is hope that more UHNWIs will be turned onto some of the lesser-known gems around the islands. The Balearic Islands have a total shoreline length of 1723 km (just slightly shorter than the South of France) boasting incredibly diverse marine life and environments. With the right eco-initiatives in place, the industry can ensure that these pristine locations can retain their beauty while also accommodating iconic yachts and their owners.
It also feels as if the local government is finally recognising the true value of the superyacht industry and how it can be used strategically to help local employment outside of the summer season. Corrupt entities in both the political and yachting realms hampered the maturity of the industry for far too long, and it felt as if enormous potential wasn’t being realised. This has now changed and the Balearic Islands are nothing if not progressive, innovative and future-thinking.
The 2022 Palma International Boat Show was a prime example of why these events are so valuable. I hold my hands up to say that I was one of many who not long ago criticised the necessity of boat shows, after all, the pandemic proved that we don’t really need them to sell boats, and they are also a pretty easy target if you want to point a finger at someone for their sustainability credentials. However, to counter that miserable perspective, the degree of positive discourse since these issues were vocalised has been unprecedented, and tangible changes to the way this industry presents itself is further proof that the market is evolving in the right direction.
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