• 21/11/2023

    Eloi Planes: “Our sector has the great challenge of making the social and environmental contribution of swimming pools more visible”.

    On Monday, Piscina & Wellness Barcelona kicks off, the most international event on the sector’s trade fair calendar which, from 27 to 30 November, will bring together more than 360 companies from 30 countries at Gran Via venue. In this edition, the show organised by Fira de Barcelona will present the latest solutions and technologies to achieve more efficient pools with minimum consumption of water, energy and chemical products. Swimming pools that are claimed as key infrastructures for social and environmental transformation. We spoke to the president of the trade show and Fluidra’s executive chairman, Eloi Planes, about this year’s fair and the context in which it’s being held.

    We are about to inaugurate one of the most participative editions of Piscina & Wellness Barcelona, what are the main figures for this event?

    This year Piscina & Wellness Barcelona is beating all the targets we set ourselves and will undoubtedly be one of the best editions of the last ten years. We will have more exhibitors, more space and a record international presence. More than 360 companies will participate with stands, and we will occupy 40,000m2 of gross floor space at the Gran Via venue. We have also increased the presence of international firms, which now accounts for 68% of the total commercial offer. We are, therefore, the most international event on the sector’s trade fair calendar, which demonstrates the interest aroused abroad by the Spanish swimming pool market and the effectiveness of our event as a connector with Latin American markets and the Mediterranean area due to its language and geographic proximity. As for the number of visitors, we are expecting more than 13,000 attendees.

    What trends will mark this year’s fair?

    Sustainability will be the main protagonist of this edition. It is the main vector of innovation in the sector. Manufacturers of equipment, accessories and products for pool maintenance are clearly committed to solutions that have the least environmental impact on the surroundings and that are efficient in the use of resources such as water, energy and chemical products. In this sense, digitalisation and pool connectivity will be the great allies in achieving this. In the short term, the number of smart and connected pools will grow, as new technologies allow remote control of filtration, cleaning, pumping, water quality and other parameters, also improving the end user’s experience.

    How would you define the current situation in the swimming pool sector?

    With many opportunities and a long way to go. The pool and wellness business, especially in the residential sector, experienced a strong upturn during the pandemic years. Now that the health crisis has passed, the market has normalised its growth and, in our country, a 3% increase in turnover is forecast for this year, according to Asofap. During 2023, we are seeing the public swimming pool segment recovering its dynamism thanks to the boost from tourism. Many sports facilities and tourist accommodations are increasing their investments to renovate and technologically equip the swimming pools and wellness areas of their establishments. On the other hand, in the residential sector, there is a demand for products with more added value that facilitate pool maintenance, improving sustainability and the user experience. Pool owners are increasingly willing to incorporate equipment that helps to reduce water and energy consumption.

    This year the climatic situation with rising temperatures and a prolonged drought has put the swimming pool in the spotlight in terms of water consumption.

    It is necessary to put into context what swimming pools represent in terms of water consumption, as we believe that perhaps the perception that exists is not in line with reality. According to Asofap data, swimming pool water represents only 0.11% of the country’s water and 1.4% of the water consumed, so it is a very residual part, which does not prevent us from continuing to work to optimise this resource as much as possible. In recent years, companies in the sector have demonstrated our commitment to the efficient use of resources by developing products and recommending good practices for swimming pools, which has allowed us to minimise their water and energy consumption. For us, sustainability and the appropriate use of natural resources are of vital importance. In addition, we collaborate with governments to transfer our expertise in the water sector and innovation to develop the most sustainable solutions for the consumer and the environment.

    What could be done to change this impression?

    In the current context and in order to anticipate the episodes that we may experience in the future, the role of the Administration is key, as it should generally address the regulation of water uses, including swimming pools. In this sense, as is being done with energy efficiency, the promotion and encouragement of the introduction of technologies that favour water saving in all areas of consumption will be essential.

    Specifically in the field of swimming pools, our sector has been innovating in this area for years and offers multiple solutions to minimise water consumption in aquatic facilities, which can be reduced by up to 90%. Technology and innovation in the sector is focused on making swimming pools more sustainable and efficient. This will be clearly seen at Piscina & Wellness Barcelona.

    I believe that a regulation in line with the needs of swimming pools will not only lead to greater growth in the areas of digitalisation and connectivity of products and the sector itself, but will also help to promote structural growth that will reduce the environmental impact and improve sustainability. In this regard, it is remarkable how consumers (owners and operators) are increasingly looking to reduce their impact on the environment while still enjoying all the benefits of a high-end bathing experience.

    Returning to the show, wellness is a speciality that is gaining presence year after year:

    Without a doubt, it is a segment with enormous potential and is in full expansion and this is reflected in the commercial offer of the show and in an area where we will recreate a Wellness centre in operation. Wellness is not a luxury, it is a necessity for everyone and, precisely, the therapeutic use and connection with water is a source of wellness. Its benefits for health and for feeling good physically and emotionally are innumerable.

    More and more hotel establishments are incorporating spas, saunas and wellness circuits as an element of differentiation and creation of new experiences for their clients. Also in the residential area, the installation of outdoor spas, saunas or steam baths in homes is increasing, or swimming pools are equipped with Wellness elements such as hydromassages, waterfalls and water jets.

    From the 2021 edition, Piscina & Wellness Barcelona brings a disruptive perspective to understand swimming pools as an effective tool within the reach of sectors, governments, administrations and organisations to create spaces for wellness, health and community relations. What is the vision proposed this year?

    This year the show will host the first edition of the Pool Horizons Summit. An initiative promoted by world leaders in the sector that aims to encourage debate on the role of swimming pools and their contribution to solving social and environmental challenges on a global scale. During this summit we will give voice to several projects of social transformation in which the swimming pool is the main protagonist that we hope can serve as inspiration for future initiatives in our sector.

    Can you tell us in advance what kind of initiatives will be presented at the Pool Horizons Summit?

    We will be able to see the +POOL project, a floating pool in the shape of a cross that will allow the inhabitants of New York to bathe in the Hudson River. The concept is based on the fact that the walls of the installation naturally filter the water, helping to improve the quality and cleanliness of the river water. Another example is the “Nager à Paris” initiative: an unprecedented plan to modernise the French capital’s public swimming pool park accompanied by measures with a social impact. We will also have the opportunity to learn about the South African project of containers transformed into portable swimming centres to teach people how to swim.

    What else will we see at Piscina & Wellness Barcelona 2023?

    As a complement to the commercial exhibition, there are several activity areas such as the “Innovation Zone” with a gallery of the most outstanding new products, as well as the exhibition of the finalists and winners of the Piscina & Wellness Barcelona Awards, the Wellness Experience Awards and the Architecture Students Competition.

    We will also have the “Wellness Experience”, a wellness centre where you can see the equipment in operation and which will feature an immersive virtual reality experience to learn about the evolution of wellness; and the “Outdoor Living Experience”, an area that is growing to demonstrate the connection between the world of the swimming pool and the decoration of outdoor spaces and which will host different conferences.

    We are also launching “Innovation Tours” which will guide visitors around the show to learn about the ideas, solutions and best practices on display at the fair. Once again, we are once again attracting key buyers and specifiers from Latin American and European markets to participate in business and networking meetings at the show.