Thai government officials have convened with superyacht industry stakeholders again to finalise the terms and conditions of a new piece of legislation that will allow foreign-flagged yachts to charter in Thai waters.

In a remarkably short period the Thai government has honoured the wishes of the industry and brought these reforms to fruition. Addressing attendees at Phuket Provincial Hall, Dr Chula Sukmanop, Director-General of the Thailand Marine Department said the new licenses, which are to be issued by the Ministry of Transport, must be applied for through an appointed superyacht agent in Thailand before arrival. 

Yachts must be larger than 30 metres in length, and have full hull and third party liability insurance.  A maximum carrying capacity of no more than 12 guests has been stipulated.

Applications can be made from July 2015, with the issue of permits commencing in September or October.  Processing is expected to take around 30 days, and the license will be valid for 12 months from the first arrival date of the vessel. Pricing is yet to be established but it was agreed at the forum that it should be kept down, in order to stimulate immediate market activity.

In an exclusive exchange with, Adam Frost, MD of Seal Superyachts praised the efforts of the government to support the yachting industry. “

The Thai Government are determined to fast track this new policy through”, he explained. “Thai bureaucracy is normally rather sluggish, but in this case the push was aided earlier in the year by the Tourism and Sports Minister, Ms Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul spearheading the moves to bring in foreign superyachts to the country.  The various Ministries and Departments involved were clearly enthusiastic, and everybody got on board quickly to make it happen in time for the new season later this year.

The news was announced at a recent public-private forum.

“We have also been assured that there will be an amendment to the crew visa laws to allow for longer periods of stay.  This is currently under review and we expect an announcement soon.  This will be another significant step in helping us attract superyachts to Thailand for longer periods of stay.”

This news also means that the long awaited Phuket Yacht Show could well soon take place. The show’s organiser, Andy Treadwell will now meet with the Thai government to discuss potential dates and he said of this news, “We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome for Thailand and South East Asia, but also for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific cruising grounds beyond. With the continuing success of the Singapore Yacht Show, soon to be joined by the increased exposure of charter opportunities through the new Phuket Yacht Show, yachting in Asia is set to finally make the mark it deserves on the global stage.”

Images courtesy of Seal Superyachts.

This news is very encouraging for a country that is a natural fit with yachting, and as with most causal economic truisms, a rise in activity will trigger infrastructure investment. One such example is Phuket Yacht Haven Marina, which is under development and is one of Phuket’s primary yachting destinations.

However, the marina is the subject of an ongoing legal battle between its owners and the Yacht Haven Buyers Action Group, involving a disputed sum of money paid towards unfinished lots at the marina. Both parties dispute one another’s claims but Dr David Haines, who acts as spokesperson for the group, welcomed the news of charter licence reform.

“I think this makes our case more visible”, he said. “The marina gaining most from the proposed superyacht chartering scheme is the Yacht Haven; Boat Lagoon and Royal Phuket Marina have restricted access due to tide.”

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Yacht Haven Marina Phuket

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