Eloi Planes is the president of Piscina & Wellness Barcelona, the most international event on the trade fair calendar in its sector, and the executive chairman of Fluidra, a leading pool and wellness equipment multinational.

The international swimming pool industry is reunited in Barcelona to continue growing

The Piscina & Wellness Barcelona fair will be held again from 29 November to 2 December 2021, for the first time after a long period beset by the pandemic. How will the opportunity to meet again in person after months of distancing affect business?

Extremely positively. Physical proximity is very important in the business world, whatever the sector. I also like to point out that pool entrepreneurs and professionals here in Spain are very well-connected. Part of the credit for this also goes to Fira de Barcelona, which, in 1994, brought together most of the sector's associations to enable them to get to know each other better, engage in dialogue and create synergies.

The fair, which will have a hybrid format (in person and remote), will be attended by practically all the most important companies in the sector, more than half of them from abroad, and buyers from different countries will be visiting us. It will be a great pleasure for all of us to shake hands again after a long period of online meetings.

Is it true to say that the pool sector has weathered the COVID-19 crisis quite well? Why?

It's true that the "aftermarket", in other words, the business generated by products and accessories related to the maintenance and improvements that the existing stock of pools requires remaining in good condition, is the sector that's witnessed the highest increase in residential pools. In the wake of the pandemic, people, even the most well-travelled ones, have had to stay at home, and this has been a key factor when it's come to making decisions such as installing a new swimming pool or renovating the existing one by improving its appearance and functionality.

In fact, the "rediscovery" of the importance and value of our usual place of residence has added two or three points of additional growth to the business.

What do digitisation and connectivity mean for the swimming pool world?

They represent a huge step forward, and they're undoubtedly the keys to the sustainable development of these facilities. We already have smart pools, and technological innovation has enabled us to increase efficiency by reducing the consumption of water, energy and chemical products and optimising time and costs.

With pool automation, the control of filtering and pumping and the recording of resource consumption can be performed remotely, allowing even greater customisation, which leads to a better user experience.

How many cubic metres of water does a pool consume each year?

Depending on the size of the pool, it's obvious that a larger or smaller volume of water will be needed to fill it. However, if we're referring to annual consumption, the amount is comparable to that of a washing machine, namely around 20-22 m3 per year. This is possible thanks, above all, to the application of systems to regulate consumption and guarantee sustainable use of the pool, such as covers that prevent losses due to evaporation. In terms of energy consumption, the main trends consist of the use of alternative energies, LED lighting, air-conditioning systems to make use of residual heat, the use of eco-sustainable materials and so on.

How much does sustainability influence the construction of a pool?

It influences the whole process; any structure has to be sustainable, in other words, it has to achieve maximum efficiency by making reasonable use of the resources while respecting the environment. New technologies, the circular economy, our interest in preserving the environment, artificial intelligence, Big Data... the entire life cycle has to achieve maximum efficiency in the use of energy and water, as well as in the management and recycling of the products and materials that are used.

How many swimming pools are there in the world? And how many are there in Spain?

According to the latest available data, there are around 17 million pools in the world, 31% of which are in the USA (more specifically 5,274,000), followed by Brazil, which accounts for 69% of the total number of pools in South America, France, with 1,477,500, and, in fourth position, Spain, with 7% of the world's pools. In addition, around 25,000 new units are still being built here every year, which makes it a very significant and resilient market, because pools need regular maintenance and renovation.

Is a pool increasingly becoming a "need"?

I'll answer you with another question; are health, well-being and the quality of social relationships "needs"? Laying aside the obvious differences, the thermal baths of ancient Rome were also a place devoted to wellness, and the boom undergone by wellness in recent years is a reflection of the importance of aquatic facilities in the lives of human beings.

In fact, one of the aims of innovation in the world of pools is, precisely, to meet the demands of a public that's seeking to improve their quality of life through water and its therapeutic use. In this respect, a swimming pool significantly helps to meet these needs.

In the same vein, this year Piscina & Wellness Barcelona is proposing a new innovation programme focusing on solutions that improve the experience of using a pool in areas such as wellness, health and the community. In other words, on the effects that the new solutions have on users, improving their quality of life and their interpersonal relationships. Because a swimming pool is undoubtedly a privileged space for sharing experiences while respecting diversity.

What else will we see at Piscina & Wellness Barcelona 2021?

In addition to showcasing the latest innovations stemming from the industry's efforts in R&D&I, the fair will also host events such as the Piscina & Wellness Barcelona Awards, the Wellness Experience Awards and the Competition for Architecture Students, which will acknowledge excellence in innovation, sustainability and functionality in different fields.

It will include the Wellness Experience space, namely the recreation of a complete wellness centre, and other significant knowledge and networking activities, including the 5th Aquatic Leisure Symposium, as well as other seminars, demonstrations and initiatives devoted to dissemination and reflection.

Would you like to add anything else?

We look forward to seeing you at the fair, to be held at Fira de Barcelona's Gran Via venue from 29 November to 2 December. Don't miss it, it will be a wonderful opportunity to greet each other again in person.