Growth to come to the Asian Superyacht Market

Patrick Yeoward of Brookes Bell Superyacht Division reports back on the positivity from the Asia Pacific Superyacht Conference and Singapore Yacht show this month, plus a call for careful growth management when working in the region

There is a very definite diversification from the standard ‘western’ idea of the yacht industry – being put forward by the thoughts and ideas being bounced around at the Singapore Yacht Forum.

There are, of course, the exceptions to the rule but the bulk of the Superyacht industry is in the range of vessels up to 30m.

One must remember the simple fact that the Superyacht term applies to vessels over 24m – whereas the initial response by ‘our’ industry is the idea of 50,60 or 70m vessels.

In Hong Kong there is a limit of 30m in berth size and there are many examples of Owners ‘building’ to the berth that they can find – which are becoming rare as hen’s teeth.

But – all is not lost. When the Superyacht market was a fledgling industry these are the sort of vessels that dominated the market. However – the picture changed dramatically in a very short time frame and there is no reason why the Asian market should not do the same.

There were those that said the horseless carriage would never catch on – but once the benefits were realised a multibillion-dollar industry sprang up to be one of the main producers of consumer goods. 

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think the time will ever come that yachts will become as prolific as cars, but it is the same philosophy of once the benefits of ownership are clearly understood the market will grow in both size and numbers.

The ability to venture further afield, enjoy unique experiences in corners of the world only accessible by sea, go below the waves to experience another world, is one that cannot be fully understood until experienced. 

The challenge is to persuade a new market to dip its toe in to the water – literally.

The sea is in the culture of most Asian nations – but as a supplier of food and a route on which to trade. The idea of using it as a form waterborne recreation was, until very recently, as foreign as Marmite.

However, this is changing and the industry, although in its infancy is showing signs of maturing rapidly and the need for understanding the cultural differences in the way a yacht is used is paramount. 

Stories abound of families using a yacht as a day boat. Resort and marina hopping are the norm. Facilities are built, in build or being planned with this philosophy in mind. This could easily be another pitfall in the growth as it will restrict availability and, if built without foresight, could cut out the availability of space for larger yachts, hampering growth.

Government departments are having to be informed – in simple dollar value terms – of changing the way Superyachts are handled from a bureaucratic point to encourage more visits.

Mr Inaba of Superyacht Logistics of Japan explained how he has been working tirelessly to reduce the quantities of paperwork, the lengthening of import and visa timeframes, removal of the need to report in to each port along a cruise and the inability to alter from a predefined route. He sees an increase in Superyachts visiting Japan in Autumn 2019 for the Rugby World Cup as with the Americas Cup in Auckland he feels there will be a draw away from the old stomping grounds. He hopes to be able to showcase cruising in Japan and persuade more to venture off the well-beaten tracks.

This draw will hopefully mean that vessels will also visit other coastal countries though SE Asia as well as the islands of the Western Pacific.

Visiting Superyachts always raise interest when arriving in far flung ports and one might hope that ‘advertising’ our industry in these areas will conjure up interest. But only if we behave sensitively.

So where does that leave us – as suppliers.

It leaves us having to LISTEN. Respect local traditions and cultures, supply what is wanted not what we feel fits in to our ideas and above all – ADVISE with this premise in mind. 

Growth will come – if handled delicately and respectfully.

Yachts and Superyachts at the Singapore Yacht Show 2019