Thailand charter update, 5th August 2015
By Rory Jackson, Superyachtnews.com
Thailand has never been considered a charter-friendly destination, although not through any absence of natural charm and allure has it been lacking. Thai waters are plagued by the outdated and unfavourable laws that are endemic to many yachting destinations that fail to distinguish between merchant and charter vessels. However, these counterintuitive decrees are set to change, as Thailand’s Ministry of Transport has passed the Thai Temporary Charter license update.
Previously it was illegal to charter a superyacht exclusively visiting Thai destinations – unless the vessel was Thai flagged. Flagging a vessel as Thai requires the owner of the yacht to hire a Thai licensed captain and engineer as well as pay seven per cent on the value of their yacht, in order to ‘import’ the yacht into Thailand.
The updated charter license will “Allow foreign flagged vessels to operate a complete charter within Thai water”, explains Adam Frost, managing director at Seal Superyachts. “It is cleaner and more clear cut, and has been mapped out through discussion with all the relevant bureaucracies as well as the industry players themselves.”
In a recent statement, the Thai tourism minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrankul, revealed that she believes updated crew visa regulations will be finalised by the end of November 2015, stating; “The visa for crew will match the permit for the yacht, which should allow the boat and crew to work effectively during their stay in Thailand.”
“While no specific impact studies have been released by either [the Thai Tourism Authority or Thai Marine Business Association lobby] department[s] – there has been a clear consensus amongst officials and industry stakeholders that attracting foreign superyacht charters to Thailand will boost ancillary spending in local economies and the wider tourism industry,” reveals Frost.
It is also hoped that by attracting the world’s wealthiest individuals and their superyachts, Thailand’s local elite will become enamoured with the yachting lifestyle and the Thai superyacht industry will become stimulated from within – and beyond – its own borders.