During the autumn of 2021, the Spanish Catalan ports and those of Occitanie have united by agreement. It is a question of setting up common strategies of communication communes but also of sharing their experiences, their know-how and innovations. The jewels of the Costa Brava, l’Escala and l’Estartit, have revealed the secrets of their respective successes.
Nestled in the heart of preserved natural areas, the Catalan ports of l’Escala and l’Estartit are paradises for yachtsmen. The two structures are particularly popular with French yachtsmen (more than a third of the clientele) and Barcelonans.
On the occasion of a cross-border “Educ’Tour”, a delegation of around thirty port managers in Occitanie benefited from a day of exchanges with the management of the two ports but also with the director of the ports of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Peire Vilà.
It appears that the mode of management of Catalan port structures has nothing to do with the operation of French ports. When most of the ports on our coast are managed by companies (of the SEM, Semop or SPL type) or by municipal management, these are associations, “clubs”, which, for fifty years, have ensured the operation of the structures. “The only shareholders here are the members”explains the president of the nautical club of l’Escala.
If these associations have long-term visibility, it is because the concessions are awarded, for example, to L’Estartit, for a period of 35 years! What, indeed, to build projects. And make investments. Their only port of l’Estartit benefited from 11 M€ of investments for the improvement of its infrastructures.
A model that cannot be transposed to France
And in this regard, if the Ports of Occitanie do not necessarily have to be ashamed, the ports of Escala and Estartit are Rolls. Everything is put, technically as humanly, at the service of the yachtsman and his boat. For example, the port of l’Escala employs about forty people. Sailors are present 24 hours a day and the services offered are numerous in the two ports: non-stop service station, mini-grocery store, concierge, electric bicycles, common leisure areas, modular reception pontoons (L’Estartit can accommodate vessels up to 45 meters, such as the Tenaz, the 40-meter superyacht for which it is the home port).
A few days ago, we presented to you the project to modernize the port of Sainte-Marie-la-Mer and its ecologically virtuous vocation: a long-term investment of nearly 30 million euros.
In another register, a port such as that of Narbonne-Plage would require a substantially equivalent expenditure for its rehabilitation and modernization. Without the help of communities, or without private management of structures, nothing will be possible.
Luxury has a price
In Catalonia, very long concessions make it possible to plan ahead. And then, it is essential to specify that the prices are not comparable to those of France: they are triple for the same sizes of boats! Prices that cannot be practiced in France.
Despite the luxurious side of yachting on the Costa Brava comparable to that of the French Riviera, the ports do not turn their backs on the cities. It is quite the opposite and surely one of the assets of associative management. Indeed, in l’Escala as in l’Estartit, each child attending school in the town sails at least once a year.
In addition, both clubs have schools and sports clubs that not only promote the practice of boating but also train champions. Added to this is the fact that regattas are organized every weekend. People from the port go to the city, people from the city go to the port, especially the youth. Enough to create a real maritime culture. A strategy from which the Ports of Occitanie could well draw inspiration.