The Marine Hotel Association (MHA) opened its first conference and trade show outside of the United States today in Barcelona, Spain. The two-day event has attracted more than 80 exhibitors from Europe and North America, representing food, beverage and hotel product and equipment suppliers.

The combined attendance of exhibitors, visitors and cruise line executives is estimated at more than 500 by Cruise Industry News, which, according to the MHA, gives exhibitors more opportunities to interact directly with cruise lines.

Peter Tobler, president of the board of directors of the MHA, and vice president of food and beverage operations for Princess Cruises, opened the conference at a breakfast session, followed by guest speaker, wine-expert Hugh Johnson, OBE. Tomorrow’s guest speaker will be Michael Bayley, executive vice president international of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Tobler told Cruise Industry News that the MHA was very encouraged by the strong support for its event outside of the U.S. and is already planning its next show, but have not yet decided whether to return to Barcelona or go to another event.

MHA, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, holds its annual conference and trade show in the U.S. every April. Its intention is to host a European event every other year.

Event sponsors include: Bacardi, welcome reception; Aqua Minerale San Benedetto, conference breakfast; J.M. Smucker Company, conference breakfast; Hepburn Biocare, cocktail reception; Grupo Codorniu, evening dinner at Cavas Cordorniu; as well as gold sponsors: Bjerrefisk, Intersupply, Nestle Professional Vitality and Seachill; bronze sponsors: Andy Mannhart and Norex. In addition, wine selections for the different events were provided by Barcelona Ship Supply/Apollo Ship Chandlers, Top Line and Grupo Codorniu.