On 9 June a selection delegates gathered at the Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta, for the second Malta Institute of Management Yacht and Superyacht Symposium. The object of the symposium was to highlight the strengths of the Maltese superyacht market, discuss how the industry benefits the local economy and to explore growth potential, weaknesses and larger superyacht considerations, from human resources to taxation in various jurisdictions.

Malta’s position at the heart of the Mediterranean, sandwiched between Europe and Africa, has always been the key to its trade and commerce. Whether it be as a naval base in war time, the missing link in a chain of trade or as a holiday destination, Malta and the waters surrounding it have a rich seafaring history. Yet, yachting remains a comparatively juvenile industry on the small island nation.

Professor Edward Scicluna

“The main aim of our economy is to diversify across as many sectors as possible, to use the few resources that are available, and to make the most of them,” commented Professor Edward Scicluna, Malta’s finance minister. “Yachting and superyachting fits the bill well…In order to raise the standard of living we need to go up in value. We need to increase our value added; whether it is tourism or whichever sector you can think of, you can’t go higher than in the yachting industry…We need to take this industry seriously, plan ahead and have as much discussion as possible to see what the competition is doing.”

The Palumbo Shipyard, Malta

From being a relative non-entity, Malta has become a flag of strong repute, moving from the black list to the white list, and it is now an active council member of the IMO’s legal committee and the Comite Maritime International. The development of Malta’s superyachting reputation is thanks, in large part, to the confidence shown by the international community to the Maltese legal and financial systems, as well as infrastructural privatisation and an attractive VAT leasing scheme that helps mitigate some of the headaches caused by myriad European VAT laws.

Reuben Buttigieg

“The superyacht industry in Malta certainly began a new era with the privatisation of the superyacht facility previously held by Malta Drydocks,” explained Reuben Buttigieg the honorary secretary pf the Malta Institute of Management (MIM). “Today…the facility is fully functional in a sustainable manner. The industry has, in its entirety, evolved over the years.”

That being said, an economic impact study commissioned by MIM highlighted a number of weaknesses in the Maltese superyacht offering. At only 316km2, Malta is limited by the space available for infrastructural development, and what little space remains is competed for by a variety of key industries, such as the profitable commercial shipping and oil industries. Furthermore, hurdles remain in regards to an ageing workforce, a lack of ultra-high-net-worth attractions, limited air connectivity to other superyachting hubs and much more. While great strides have been taken to put Malta on the superyachting map, greater steps are still required.