We met the president of the Consorzio Industriale Provinciale Nord Est Sardegna, CIPNES Gallura, Gianni Sarti, to get some more details on the remarkable development of nautical activities in particular in the industrial area of the Gulf of Olbia
by Paolo Albertelli
Our curiosity was triggered on the occasion of the first edition of the Sardinia Boat Show, which took place from 22nd to 26th April 2022 at the modern port of Marina di Olbia, which has been recording a particularly encouraging success. The organisation of the event was managed by CIPNES, with funding and support from the Region of Sardinia and the Municipality of Olbia. During our visit to the Sardinia Boat Show, we established direct contacts with several well-known and less-known boat manufacturers, with shipyards offering technical assistance, boat resales, accessories, and installations of all kinds, but above all with a territory which, thanks to the high amount of infrastructural resources it offers, welcomes yachtsmen from all backgrounds and corners of the world every year, as the figures summarised in the table.
The most important shipyards of the area are no doubt SNO Yachts, whose production plant also accommodates the company B-Shiver producing the well-known Novamarine boats, then Maori Yachts, which recently launched its first 38-meter APEX, G-Tender with its dinghies conquering international markets, Marino with its open boats, RAME Yachts, a newborn shipyard producing dinghies with a highly refined aesthetical quality, and Italnautica with its custom open boats. In addition to boat and dinghy manufacturers, the Gulf of Olbia hosts many businesses dedicated to refitting and maintenance, an activity that is constantly expanding and also counts on the presence of important companies coming from other regions, such as the Valdettaro shipyard, which has just completed the set up of the new site in the Gulf of Olbia within the Industrial Area in the CIPNES facilities, generally known as Cala Saccaia. As reported in the magazine La Nautica in Cifre 2022 published by Confindustria Nautica, the region of Sardinia, although only slightly, has overtaken Liguria in the number of total berths with a count of 21,709 in 118 facilities.
The three main industrial divisions of CIPNES are boating, logistics, and the food sector, but boating has emerged in recent years as a sector of excellence in terms of development and turnover. As outlined above, many shipyards have opened branches in this area, thus contributing to the creation of one of the most important nautical segments in the Mediterranean. The available spaces and infrastructures offer great reception capacity for large yachts, and the shipyards’ ability to provide even the most complex technical services is an added value.
Are there any plans to further increase the availability of industrial spaces with outlets to the sea? Of course, we have a development project to create a dozen new shipyards on the sea, each of around one hectare on land and all with one side on the sea to facilitate the launching and towage of the vehicles they will produce or assist technically. We are working very actively on this aspect and I believe that our partners are all willing to bring this important expansion project to completion. At the moment, one of the needs of our entrepreneurs is to find new manpower, specialised personnel to add to the existing staff. We have a major shortage in this field, which we need to solve, but in any case, this is a problem that affects all of Italy. However, we have several solutions on the table and one of them is to encourage Sardinian workers to come and work here, as well as others of course. To achieve a concrete result in this direction, we think it is necessary to make work in the nautical sector attractive, and this is achieved first and foremost by offering the right jobs and then by having access to dedicated, low-cost construction. I am not talking about housing solutions such as the ones we have been seeing around Italy near the industrial areas, but rather about cosy residences, with no more than three floors that can accommodate workers and their families in pleasant and comfortable surroundings. Today, Olbia is the only Sardinian city with a growing population and one of the few in Italy recording this positive trend. It is not easy to find homes and our idea aims at making it easier for people who want to come and work in this area with their families. Consider that these choices can reduce unemployment in central Sardinia in particular, but also allow investors to access new professional resources.
It is fine to attract manpower, but then you also need training. What can you tell me about this? Training is one of the primary aspects of the project as a whole, and the Region of Sardinia is investing heavily in this aspect. We believe that today training must be remunerated, otherwise, it is inconceivable that we could intercept the interest of young people coming from other areas and in particular from the island. Workers must be allowed to make a career for themselves and build a life here.
What is the status of the project regarding the construction of new shipyards? We still need some authorisations from the institutions involved, but we are convinced that they too will appreciate the importance of a project like this which is focused on boating as its industrial aim of development.
As for the SEZ areas, they certainly represent an element of attraction for nautical companies from outside the island, is this correct? The SEZ (Special Economic Zone) gives us an extra element to attract companies. Entrepreneurs need to take advantage of this opportunity and the signs of interest are already many. We have companies that are preparing to move their entire business here from other areas.
The Sardinia Boat Show is certainly part of this big project, what are the prospects? With the first edition in 2022, we achieved unexpected success. We are working on the second edition to take it to a higher level of quality and quantity, i.e. larger and more comfortable areas and more shipyards. I must admit that the demand for exhibition areas for the edition that will take place from 21st to 25th April 2023, in the new location of Porto Rotondo, is already very high, with confirmations from exhibitors who participated in the 2022 edition. In addition, with the next edition, we will also have shows and many interesting events that we are including in the calendar of the fair. I cannot anticipate anything, but they certainly deserve to be considered as a good excuse to enjoy relaxing days surrounded by boats and nautical operators, while also enjoying the talks on topics for which we are involving top-level personalities. In short, there will be much to see and experience.
Since the very first edition you have had the patronage of Confindustria Nautica – a great achievement, I would say. Well, we would have never imagined that we would get it already from the first edition, of course, we immediately tried to establish a dialogue with the representatives of Confindustria Nautica and I have to admit that we were met with enthusiasm. This was a true honour to us. Their contribution helped us significantly: having our fair in the schedule of national boat shows sponsored by Confindustria Nautica from the very first edition was certainly encouraging as well as strategic support for us. I believe that in Italy it is impossible to do anything right in the boating sector without the support of Confindustria Nautica, which is why we plan to stand by their side and share common goals.
(Gianni Sarti: More and more pleasure boating – Barchemagazine.com – December 2022)