Over the past few years, Asia has rapidly been becoming a major yachting hub for that part of the world and beyond. Taiwan has been at the forefront of this trend, but more recently, other countries in the region, specifically the countries of Southeast Asia – Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines — are all posed to experience major growth in the motor yacht industry.
At last year’s Asia Pacific Yachting Conference, Mykolas Rambus, CEO of Wealth-X, said, “Southeast Asia is still a new and uncharted market for the yachting industry, presenting huge opportunities as well as complex challenges for companies seeking to grow their business.”
What is Driving the Asian Yacht Market?
On the one hand, the economy is driving the boon in the Asian yacht industry. While shipyards in the states continue to flounder, and are seeing a significant number of closings and acquisitions, their Asian counterparts thrive simply because their costs of operation are so much lower. But, the industry is being driven by more than just the economy. There is a change of attitude toward boating in the region that is picking up steam.
We see people beginning to move away from the purchase of smaller boats and lower quality production yachts, and becoming more interested in custom built and higher quality luxury yachts. There is a growing understanding of pleasure yachting in the area.
While much of that change in perspective is being driven by emerging wealth in China, it also has much to do with what the region has to offer as a yachting destination.
Southeast Asia is abounds with islands known for their exotic beauty, which are also a source for some of the best SCUBA diving and sport fishing in the world. That is creating major opportunities for charter yacht businesses. A recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council said that Southeast Asia is expected to be the fastest growing global sub-region over the next decade.
Not All Smooth Sailing
Despite steady and predicted growth, there are still many issues in Southeast Asia that stand in the way of the region achieving its full potential as a motor yacht hub — Infrastructure and lack of marinas for one, and government regulations for another. For example, in Thailand, captains and crew can only stay in port for 30-days, and, right now, only Thai-flagged vessels are allowed to run Charters. Indonesia, another country counting on the yachting industry to boost its economy, has Asia’s highest import tax for yachts at 45 percent.
Still the Asian governments recognize the opportunities yachting presents to them, and I suspect will loosen up the regulations impeding growth accordingly.
Taiwan Continues to Set the Example
At the recent Sydney Boat Show, held July 30th-August 3, leading Taiwanese yacht builder, Horizon, introduced its new E84.
This is just another indication of how the Taiwanese shipbuilders are carving out new markets, and becoming more competitive. On a recent trip to the region, we have seen firsthand how the quality of these Taiwanese boats continue to not only improve, but evolve to meet the needs and desires of today’s yacht buyers.