Day 1 - Asia Pacific Yachting Conference 2017
Published: 06.04.2017



5 April 2016, Singapore. Over 160 Marine Industry professionals have gathered for the 9th Asia Pacific Yachting Conference being held at ONE˚15 Marina, in Singapore. This year’s theme -“Towards increased regional cooperation to promote marine tourism in the Asia Pacific” - aims to highlight the need for the ASEAN countries to work together in order to grow boating in the region. Andy Treadwell, CEO and Founder of Singapore Yacht Events, opened the conference by saying there has been “some progress, but for real change the governments in Asia need to embrace the needs of the boating community and work with the industry to grow boating in the region.”

Martin Redmayne, Conference Chairman and Chairman of The Superyacht Group, delivered the keynote address and spoke of Asia’s potential, but reminded the audience that the present increase in regional wealth doesn’t automatically translate into boat ownership. “With only 5,000 superyachts in the world it is a relatively small market, but it can be a significant wealth generator in its own right. The more that governments can do to encourage superyachts coming into the region, the bigger the economic benefits will be.” Asian owners who are new to yachting also need to be mentored though the process of yacht ownership, as a negative experience will impact badly. The real question is how to engage this new audience in Asia, and to make their experience of owning a yacht a positive experience.

Asia and the wider region has plenty to offer on the destination front, and the next group of speakers from Tahiti and Indonesia presented how their countries are embracing the boating communities. Manoa Rey and Vaihere Lissant (Tahiti Tourisme) shared their experiences of encouraging superyachts to visit their region. Tahiti is actively targeting yacht owners, captains and charter brokers, and has introduced simplified clearance procedures to encourage charter operations in the region. Tahiti is also educating local corporations and communities to the economic benefits that superyachts bring with them.

The Indonesian government is also keen to encourage development of the upper end of the leisure marine industry. Prof Dr Indroyono Soesilo highlighted the maritime biodiversity of Indonesia that makes the country such a perfect boating destination, and although there is some lag between government policy and implementation, a number of sailing initiatives have been developed to bring yachts to the region. Indonesia has been concentrating on attracting cruise ship custom of late, and anticipates being able to convert the experience into further welcoming private vessels and superyachts. An extensive programme of sailing rallies over the years with culminate in the presentation of Sail Sabang 2017.

‘Progress Updates in the Asia Pacific Region’ was the topic for a panel discussion that included Nigel Beatty (Japan), Andy Shorten (Indonesia), Rico Stapel (Thailand) and Ruurd Van Putten (Vietnam), with the general opinion being that Asia needs to champion its own cause and actively engage by connecting itself to itself across the region. “Cruising in Indonesia is not about being seen,” noted Andy Shorten of The Lighthouse Consultancy. “It is about longer-distances and an ‘unsupported’ adventure.” In Thailand, visiting boats are getting bigger, and the charters are getting longer. The Thailand Charter Licence story has progressed, but is not yet entirely resolved despite the best efforts of the Thai Marine Business Association and strong support from the Ministry of Transport and Marine Dept. Details lying with the Revenue and Immigration Depts remain to be resolved.

“Designing yachts for a new generation of cruising in Asia” produced some interesting observations from Erwin Bamps (CEO Gulf Craft), Mark Stothard (Echo Yachts) and Stephen White (Sovren House Group). Does the ‘standard model’ of a superyacht, privately owned, and accommodating 12 guests, hold good today? Or are Asian owners look for a bigger corporate entertainment platform? M/Y Charlie, the 46m superyacht on display at the Singapore Yacht Show, is designed both for corporate entertainment and adventure cruising. The Sovren House Group, which has formed the Maha Yacht Club, that combines luxury of a Feadship fleet with 5-star hotel management, all run under a ‘membership’ platform.

The “Cleaning up Asian Waters” panel discussion looked at how ASEAN government initiatives are making progress on the thorny subject of marine pollution. Internationally recognised conservationist David Jones (Plastic Ocean Foundation) talked about the business models associated with sustainability. Magafir Ali (Community Campaigner, Banda) showed how communities in Indonesia are actively supporting the clean up process, and Zara Tremlett (Phuket Yacht Haven) addressed environmental issues facing marinas.

Closing the day was a discussion on “How Asia can learn from the Mediterranean”. Industry specialist Ken Hickling (Sherpa 63), John Leonida (Clyde & Co), Oscar Siches (Marina Consultant) and Stephen White (Sovren House Group) offered insights into the homogeneity of organisation in the Med that is a long way away from the fragmented collection of regulations that face would-be Asian superyacht visitors. Once again, co-ordination is something that needs to be addressed – not everywhere needs to be a ‘hub’ – there is a simplicity to be gained from specialising a little and being a ‘satellite’ destination, where another location becomes the hub. Med superyacht cruising is based on cultural history, a huge volume of traffic, short distances port-to-port, and a clearly defined ‘season’. This model hardly applies in Asia, and therefore lessons to be transferred must be carefully scrutinised.

After a relatively long day ‘in conference’, delegates were happy to gather for cocktails on the roof terrace of ONE˚15 Marina and enjoy the view of the Singapore Yacht Show (almost) ready to open tomorrow.

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