Yacht sector looking at 10% growth
The yacht industry is set to log a 10% growth rate this year, says Vrit Yongsakul, group managing director of Boat Lagoon Yachting.
The sector in Thailand is undergoing fundamental changes, the executive said. Facilities, infrastructure and public understanding of yachting as a sport have improved over the years. The government has also radically cut the import tax on boats in the last 10 years.
"We are starting to see a greater understanding of boating culture, in part because of the addition of expertise from abroad," Mr Vrit said. "Thailand is becoming a boating heaven, compared with what it was 10 years ago."
There are more than 1,500 yachts in Thailand and each one stays for an average of two months in Thailand, each of which cost more than 100,000 baht per head per day.
Boat Lagoon Yachting, founded 24 years ago, is now the oldest and largest importer of yachts in Thailand. The company sold 30 boats last year, and says it is growing at a 10-15% rate.
The company also provides boat charter services and after-sales services in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Maldives. Its boats range from 20 million to 4 billion baht.
The company invested 1.2 billion baht in an 80-rai boatyard in Thailand.
"We have the most extensive maintenance facilities in Southeast Asia," Mr Vrit said. "The government is supporting marine tourism, and Thailand has an edge against neighbouring countries in terms of facilities and infrastructure, but there is still competition."
Opportunities for growth include improvements to be made in repair and berthing facilities, which would attract more superyachts to the country, he said. While there are superyacht charter opportunities in Thailand, they are not on the same level as in Europe.
The greatest opportunity may be in educating Thais about yachting as an activity that affords privacy and the opportunity to travel where few others can, he said.
The government is reviewing various formalities to attract more charters and superyachts to the region, including simplifying licences and visas.
"The work is in the pipeline," Mr Vrit said.
Market research firm Global Industry Analysts reports the global yacht industry will top US$74 billion (2.4 trillion baht) in the next four years. The US will continue to be the largest player in the sector, with a 47% share, but Asia and China will drive most of the market growth.