Fully booked in the Balearics (October 13, 2015)

With the easing of the Balearics’ charter licence laws and reduced taxation in 2014, the summer of 2015 has been the first season in which the impact of these changes can be fully evaluated. As most of the yachts in the Mediterranean have recently finished for the season and are moving into refit work or preparation for the Caribbean, now is the perfect time to reflect on how the superyacht market has evolved in the region.

Marta Iglesias, charter broker at Camper and Nicholsons International in Palma, upholds that 2015 has been one of the best charter seasons in the Balearics for many years. “Since the relaxation of the charter taxation laws, there have been more boats coming to the island than ever,” she says. “But the best thing is that it can get much better – it is still an emerging market compared to the more established European destinations.”

While Iglesias admits that there remains some industry confusion surrounding the charter situation here, she believes this is understandable considering the new regulations are still very much in their infancy, and growing pains in the first couple of years are to be expected.

Ibiza has also seen an increase of superyachts cruising in its waters. “The season here is definitely getting longer,” explains Daniel Marí, manager at Marina Ibiza. “This year the season started earlier, was much busier than previous years and we have had solid bookings for September and October. In total we have seen an increase of around 15 per cent due to the growing bookings in June and September.”The increase in superyacht traffic in the area has been evident, with the likes of A, Rising Sun and many more iconic superyachts visible around the bay of Palma throughout the summer. “I have never seen so many big boats cruising the Balearics as there are at the moment,” says Peter Brown, COO of the Global Yachting Group. “In previous years there have never been any big boats here but there are lots of big motoryachts coming here now. And the knock-on effect of that is huge.”

The ‘knock-on effect’ that Brown is referring to is the subsequent business that these boats bring to the local industry, with those yachts chartering and cruising here more likely to undertake work close by. The historically quiet months of July and August have been busier than ever in the yards as more boats take advantage of the increased availability and flexibility of space and contractors during the summer months and, looking towards the winter period, the yards are already filling up.
Andy Williams, founder of Yacht Finishing Support, has recently been unable to get two clients – a 45m and 50m motoryacht – hauled out in STP due to shortage of space. “The winter refit period in Palma has already reached its maximum capacity,” he explains. “It happened particularly early this year, before the summer season had even finished. Palma is already too small for demand.”

Besides the popularity it has amongst the yachts, more and more international companies are recognising Palma’s value and investing in representation on the island. Originally established in New Zealand and the US, Evolution Sails opened their European operation in Mallorca last year and manager Siggi Mansaker believes the timing was just right.

“Especially in terms of the the sailing yacht market there are a lot of boats here and the yards are filling up rapidly,” he explains. “The captains and project managers appreciate the unique set up of STP because it gives them the choice to flit between three or four contractors to carry out work.”

The situation is driving the momentum of the local superyacht industry and further establishing the Balearics as a year-round destination for yachts to cruise, charter and carry out quality work. However, the refit market here is space driven and it is becoming more essential for captains and contracting companies to start making provisions to book work in their yard of choice well in advance.


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