Southeast Asia … Climate, natural beauty and globalization have predetermined the attractiveness of this region for yachting, and history, local traditions and world crisis phenomena are at the other extreme. What will prevail? And will there ever be a new yachting Mediterranean here?
In the East Asian region and, above all, in its southern waters, yachting is becoming more and more popular. Along with economic growth, sales of yachts are growing, boat shows are gaining momentum, and infrastructure is being rebuilt. And it no longer seems like a coincidence that the abbreviation of the name Southeast Asia in English is spelled SEA (South-East Asia).
Few regions of the world can compete with Southeast Asia in the diversity of landscapes, seas, cultural and historical heritage. Tourists from China, Europe and other regions tend to come here. It is all the more surprising to see how little yachtsmen have yet mastered the seas, bays, islands and coasts of the region, magnificent in their beauty and diversity. Many are stopped by the fact that yacht tourism in Southeast Asia still suffers from indifference or misunderstanding of the authorities, as well as a serious lack of high-level marinas and associated infrastructure. Among those professionals who actively resist the circumstances is Andy Treadwell, whose Verventia company organizes Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong yacht shows.
Ever since Andy founded the region’s largest Singapore Yacht Show in 2011, his efforts have paid off. Even despite the COVID-19 epidemic, which forced the postponement of the exhibition from March to October this year, Andy is sure that the situation, albeit not very quickly, is changing for the better.
Andy Treadwell, CEO of Verventia
Despite our best efforts, the yachting business in the region is still underdeveloped. But while the number of marinas in Asia is growing slowly, boat sales and the number of people looking to sail has grown substantially. In a global context, the Asian market only shows about 10-15% of new deals, but with about a third of global private capital in Asia, the region undoubtedly has huge potential.
Asian Yacht Market
Simpson Marine (one of the regional market leaders) shares Andy Treadwell’s optimism about the growth of the yachting sector: last year they sold more than 100 new and brokerage yachts. “The Asian brokerage market is very active, especially in Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand / Phuket,” says Eva Stachurska, Head of Marketing. – Currently the best-selling boats are from the segment of flybridge yachts and catamarans 40-60 feet long. In total, from the very beginning of our activity in 1984, we have sold more than 3000 boats from 5 to 70+ meters in length. Most of them go to Asian buyers. “
This year’s exhibition, founded in 2011, will take place from 15 to 18 October at the ONE ° 15 Marina on Sentosa Island. The event covers the entire spectrum of the water entertainment industry and is addressed not only to residents of the Asia-Pacific region, but also to participants from all over the world, supported by the support of representatives of the international yachting industry.
Many other world-renowned companies agree that the Southeast Asian market is expanding and are developing their business in this region. “We have been working with Asian clients and non-residents living here for over 15 years, so this is by no means a new market for us,” says Gary Wright, co-founder and CEO of Y.CO. “We are seeing an increase in the number of Asian clients in various areas of our business, including charter, purchasing, yacht management and new ship construction coordination. Asian clients have specific expectations for yachting, and our team is able to meet them by showing respect for all aspects of local cultural traditions along with the crews. “
Historically, these traditions have proven to be a major obstacle: the locals have long viewed the ocean more as a trade route and a source of seafood than a place to relax with family and friends. The very hot and humid climate also did not add to the desire to relax on the boat. However, today the attitude towards the sea and yachts is changing.
A look at the industry
Vacation on the water, which is accustomed to in the West, today attracts many wealthy residents of Southeast Asia, who seek to experience all the feelings that accompany owning a luxury yacht. The younger generation of successful people, more active and oriented towards rest, also turns to yachting.
Eva Stachurska agrees that attitudes towards yacht ownership are changing. “In the past, it was more for status and entertainment, but now a yacht is purchased for genuine pleasure from relaxing with family and friends, entertainment with water toys and more and more often for cruises.”
Almost 40 million foreign tourists visited Thailand last year, making it the most popular of all ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. And the question becomes irrelevant: what can be done to further develop the pleasure craft industry, which could bring many hundreds of millions of dollars along with the development of the labor market and improvement of the country’s technical base?
Andy Treadwell believes that at least part of the answer is to convince brokers to present Southeast Asia as a promising superyacht destination to their clients. “The more boats come here, the more active the still latent market of thousands of potential charterers and buyers will become. However, the current owners, 90% of whom are based in the Mediterranean in the summer, are not particularly willing to invest in the Asian direction, because many countries still impose a ban on foreign superyachts. ”
However, despite the challenges and obstacles, the enthusiasm has not left the globally recognized companies that already have a permanent presence in Southeast Asia. Fraser, an industry leader in unusual destinations around the world, is looking to expand into the region.
“Fraser has always explored new yachting destinations and we are keen to see the Asian destination develop and grow in popularity,” says Lisa Peck, international marketing manager for Fraser. – We hope that governments will go for positive changes in the regulation of the yachting industry. Quality infrastructure to support superyachts is growing and this is a good sign. We want to see Asia prosperous, with more opportunities for charter clients to visit the most incredible corners of the region. “
Lees Sol, charter manager at Northrop & Johnson in Phuket, is confident that the charter market will continue to grow in the region. She cites clients from the US, Canada, Europe and China as the energetic charterers in the region, with Chinese citizens accounting for 30% of transactions.
“The market is growing every year, as is the size and quality of the local yacht fleet,” says Lis Sol. “For example, in Indonesia, when Patty Siri and his Silolona created the trend for luxury pinisi – traditional Indonesian two-masted sailboats, many saw it working and followed in his footsteps. Now I can easily count over 20 luxurious Pinisi; each has its own style and market niche, and they are all at the top of the market. “
In Thailand, the number of charter yachts between 30 and 45 meters has more than doubled over the past five years. Although many yachts are used, they are usually well looked after and regularly updated with interiors and furniture.
Constant expansion in terms of sales is the strategy of the brokerage market. Over the past two years, we have sold several yachts with a length of 24-35 meters to clients from Asia and are actively working on two new projects. Now the segment of boats with a length of 30-35 meters is in demand, as many owners are looking for something larger and more reliable. There was also significant interest from experienced Asian clients in the 50-65 meter yacht category.
Martin Holmes, Northrop and Johnson General Manager Asia
Martin Holmes believes Asian buyers are more interested in new boats from brands such as Feadship, Amels, Heesen, Cantiere delle Marche and Benetti as leaders in their segment. “Local customers have high expectations and prefer to avoid disappointment or too much risk,” Martin says. “A new boat can meet these expectations, provided it is built under competent management.”
The sixth boat show will take place on January 7-10, 2021 at Royal Phuket Marina. The organizer of the event, like the exhibitions in Singapore and Hong Kong, is the Verventia company headquartered in Singapore. The show marks Thailand as an important yachting destination.
An important advantage of the Asia-Pacific region is the many unique, untouched by commerce cruise destinations. “The sea routes here are amazing, from Myanmar and Thailand through East Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia to Australia,” says Andy Treadwell. – The places are charming and uncrowded. Indonesia alone has over 17,500 islands, many of which are completely virgin. The region is unlike any other, culture and biodiversity are its most important advantages. “
“When thousands of new Asian clients are immersed in the yachting lifestyle (if their governments allow us to bring yachts for charter), they will want to explore new regions for them: the Caribbean and Mediterranean,” continues Andy. “Some of those who have wintered in the Caribbean many times will want to come to Asia for a change of scenery. Everyone wins, but for that to happen, governments must support our project to transform destinations such as Thailand, Myanmar and Indonesia into the “Asian Mediterranean.”
While COVID-19 has yet to be defeated, Andy believes in positive change once the epidemic becomes more manageable. “We were the first international boat show to postpone, but we may be the first to open our doors again,” he says of the Singapore Yacht Show. – I believe there will be a new surge of interest in yachting immediately after this terrible period is over. Despite the current chaos, we can at least launch a new Hong Kong show that will mark the important northern point of the Asian yacht market’s golden triangle. We hope that the postponed Singapore exhibition will be followed by the November boat show in Hong Kong – these events can give the industry the stimulus it needs now. ”
The boat show will debut November 19-22 at Kwun Tong Bay. The exhibition aims to unleash the yachting potential of Hong Kong and the entire Great Bay Area, as well as influence the development of the Chinese yacht market.
Verventia, Simpson Marine, iStock, Corbis