Phuket, 13th May 2015 – by Will Mathieson, Superyacht News
A meeting staged between Thai government official and industry stakeholders, to discuss an overhaul of regulations governing superyacht operation, has been described as a “watershed” moment for the industry in the region, by Seal Superyachts’ Jeff La Valette.
The meeting, which was staged at Phuket Provincial Hall, provided a platform for government representatives to present a tri-fold manifesto for the reform of the Thai industry.
The plans to invigorate the market there comprised the enhancement of the marina infrastructure; the establishment of new superyacht shows; and the issuance of charter licences for foreign-flagged yachts, which will be formulated within the next six months, and in time for the next cruising season.
It is this final reform that represents the crux of the issue in Thailand.
Speaking exclusively to SuperyachtNews.com following the meeting Seal Superyacht’s MD, Adam Frost explained: “The issue of not being able to legally charter in Thailand has definitely been a stumbling block in the growth of Thailand as a superyacht destination. It has restricted charter companies from actively and openly promoting Thailand.
“I’m certain that being able to offer these yachts a charter license, and for the owners and brokers to have the knowledge that chartering here will be 100 per cent legal, is going to quickly stimulate growth. Thailand almost sells it self as a destination, due to its outstanding natural beauty and varied cruising areas. I expect this news will encourage more superyachts to consider visiting Thailand, as an alternative to the Caribbean season.”
These points were echoed by Gulu Lalvani, chairman of the Royal Phuket Marina, who has also played a central role in bringing these changes to fruition. “There are many superyacht owners who would bring their superyachts to Phuket if they could charter them while here, but currently the regulations deter them”, he said.
“I know many people who charter superyachts around the world for in excess of $100,000 per week, and this revenue could come to Phuket if some changes are made. Introducing a charter license for superyachts who wish to charter in Thailand will fix the current problem and will significantly increase charter revenue for the country.”
Lalvani’s marina is one of few currently offering the level of amenities demanded by visiting superyachts, and Frost says occupancy at peak season is now close to 100 per cent across Thailand.
“There is already a need for more marinas”, Frost explained. “For future growth in the Thai superyacht industry, it is going to be critical to get more superyacht berths online. There are plenty of private investors, willing to build new marinas. The issue is not the funding, but the legal and governmental regulations and requirements that developers face, in trying to build new marinas.”