Aldous Grenville-Crowther talks to Miquel Alabore, General Secretary of the Catalonia Boating Industry Association, ADIN.

Aldous Grenville-Crowther.
  When I spoke with ADIN’s last president, the late Senor Miguel Company Martorell, he told me that the Spanish boating industry was essentially an industry of importers and that there was little government assistance to help actual constructors. He said it was very difficult for small constructors to finance going to overseas shows. Has this changed and are you in a position to bring influence?

Miquel Alabore. Not much, but I think that we are ready, in a positive way, to try to make some improvement in our administration and give more support to our marine industry. For instance, we attended the METS show with a group of Spanish companies, producers of accessories and so on and we have support from the Spanish Institute for Export, which covered part of the expenses of our members.

AG-C. Francisco Rivas told me, at the Barcelona Boat Show, that ADIN is beng replaced, as the Spanish boating industry association, by the newly formed ANEN (see BYM Jan magazine) and that he will be president. I understand that ADIN will come under the umbrella of ANEN?

MA. It is not good for the industry in Spain to have two associations doing the same job. On the other, we have a very interesting job to expand now in Catalonia, given that 61% of ADIN members are Catalan. So, it was decided to integrate into the new main Spanish Association ANEN. The terms have not yet been finalised as ADIN requires approximately 30% of the decision making power within this new society.
This would be appropriate as 32% of the Spanish boating industry earning is concentrated in Catalonia.

AG-C. I believe that the Catalonian government has had more autonomy, since last June, and this will affect the regional boating situation. Can you enlarge on that please?

MA. Last June the Spanish courts approved a new statute of autonomy for Catalonia. On it the Spanish and Catalonian government discussed a lot about many laws. Many have been approved, but not all.  Some of the bigger issues have not been accepted by the Spanish government, but for relatively minor things, like leisure marine, basically, from now on in Catalonia we have almost 100% exclusive responsibility. In particular, the Catalonian government has exclusive authority for driving licences, for the coast and boats in marinas and, of course, for leisure fishing. Many, many things are now under the control of the government of Catalonia.

AG-C. With this autonomy what initiatives will you be taking to help the growth of boating in this region?

MA. Always Catalonia has been the big motivator of the Spanish economy, always we are close to 20% of the GDP, in Spain. Also, Catalonia has always been historically closer to the rest of Europe than to the rest of Spain. For this reason and because of the strong English community in Catalonia,  we have always been more open minded and innovative. Basically always things that have been developed and created in Catalonia, after some time have been copied in the rest of Spain. So, as the actual model in Spain concerning marinas is largely old fashioned, we would like to modify and promote dry marinas.

The problem of building dry marinas, close to the shore, is that it is unacceptable for local governments. Our plan is to build small channels and make dry marinas, up to a kilometre inland. This is the project we must develop to create a strong industry and commerce. In particular, quality tourism for Catalonia, which has one third of Spain’s foreign visitors.

AG-C. What is ADIN doing to attract large yachts?

MA. This is very important for the industry and associated activities. We don’t really have Spanish builders for this type of boat, but when these big megayachts come here they give work and many benefits. That is the reason we are trying to become the big megayacht place in the Mediterranean.

With our dry marina plans, we want to give Catalonia two types of boating. The big yacht and the entry level boat. So, what we want to promote is the reorganisation of the boats in the water. What we would like is that, in the future, all the small boats, say below 7 or 8 metres, will be taken out from the water, in order to allow big boats, even in less quantity, to get enough space on the water.

By building dry marinas, with a channel to them, we can create a huge quantity of space, for people who want to go boating with the family and so on, without spending a big amount of money. So a marina that now has 1000 moorings would become a marina with 700 moorings for larger boats and the smaller boats would be in the dry stack.

We are also trying to put pressure on the government to allow for more free launching ramps. So, every 50 kilometres along the Catalonian coast, there would be more spaces at low prices and in that way we would develop the ports for the medium and large yachts. 

The small boats are very important and the reality is that there is a big hole in the small category of 6 to 7 metres. Selling larger sizes of boats is good for the dealer, but not for the sector. What we need is to promote boating to the Spanish people, so we want to launch our dry stack plans in Catalonia  and then, later, expand them to the rest of Spain,

AG-C. Are many large boats registered in Catalonia?

MA. The Catalonia economy is about 20% of the Spanish total, but much more concerning leisure marine. The Catalonia area has 25% of Spanish boat registrations, but even more in the larger boats. 33% of boats registered, in Spain, of more than 12 metres are registered in Catalonia. Our estimation is that Catalonia has around 32% of the total turnover of marine industries, in Spain, so that means in terms of import and export business that is around €600 million.

AG-C. Could you summarise ADIN’s aims and priorites?

MA. I want to make sure there is the opportunity for everybody in Spain to go boating, not just the rich people. We need more use of boats by middle income people, so we need more low cost berths and free ramps and moorings, such as bouys in the calas, where people can spend time.

The Catalonian Ports have a plan, at the moment, to increase the number of moorings by 3000, over the next ten years, but that is a flawed plan; 3000 is not nearly enough, if we are to get the increased use we need.

When a child is young he gets a bicycle and when he grows he gets a car and he will always have a car. He may never have a Lamborghini or a Ferrari  but he will always have a car and aim to have a better car. The same needs to be applied to boats. When he is young he will have a canoe and when he is older he will have a small boat. He is unlikely to ever have a megayacht, but he will always have a boat and aim to have a better boat. 

AG-C.  Thank  you  Miquel  Alabore.

Narcis Cadavid, General Manager of one of the country’s most powerful boating companies, Zodiac Spain, has been elected President of ANEN.

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