Sometimes it feels like the biggest battle the superyacht industry faces is not in selling yachts or securing new builds, but battling bureaucrats and their misconceptions about what it represents.
We all know how prohibitive the Chinese government’s taxation of luxury imports has been to the industry’s attempts to reach its ultra-wealthy. And earlier in the year we reported on what we thought was positive news from the US, on a proposed bill that would allow the sale of foreign-flagged vessels without incurring a crippling import duty.
However, we were then informed by the Florida Yacht Brokers Association that we had somewhat jumped the gun, as there was no certainty the bill would make it through America’s vast legislative process.
Further south, the battle between bureaucrats and the industry is being most keenly fought in Brazil. Although the country is now in recession, due in large part to state mismanagement, Brazil has enjoyed a fleeting period of prosperity and is still home to a lucrative pot of UHNWIs.
However, despite its powerful allure to adventurous and fun-loving tourists of all types, Brazil’s superyacht charter market is almost non-existent.
For one, there is a restriction on the presence of foreign-flagged yachts in Brazilian waters of three months. And for each of those three months, a surcharge of one per cent of the hull’s value must be paid. As such, there is no superyacht fleet to speak of, despite the opportunities the beaches of Rio and the Amazon river offer.
Rio's Pier Maua is being developed to welcome superyachts in time for the 2016 Olympics. Image courtesy of Carlos Junior.
What is common among these three scenarios is that the industry is battling legislators who know it’s not politically savvy to facilitate growth of the yachting market, despite the economic benefits it would bring with it.
This is going on all over the world, and the governments who have made yachting culturally acceptable are few and far between. Yet, while this stigma is hard to shake, the superyacht industry has still been slow to instigate any sort of meaningful research into the aforementioned economic benefits. And even those that have, as commendable as their attempts have been, have done so unilaterally lacking the unified voice that gets results.
Therefore, maybe one of our resolutions for 2016 should be to shout louder, and more coherently, about how diverse the benefits of our industry can be.