The Australian Government has announced that it will introduce the Special Recreational Vessels Bill 2019, allowing foreign-owned and flagged superyachts to charter in Australian waters. It is hoped that the passing of this bill will unlock an estimated 11,800 jobs and $1.64 billion to the Australian economy.
Under the previous structure, foreign-flagged vessels were only able to operate commercially in Australia if the vessel was fully imported, thus incurring a staggeringly high cost that was nigh on impossible to justify based on the returns from charters alone.
“Now is the critical time to act,” comments David Good, CEO of Superyacht Australia. “We commend the Deputy Prime Minister. The Hon Michael McCormack for introducing this Bill today. Huge events in the Pacific over the next 18 months will mean that large numbers of superyachts will be in our region. The Tokyo Olympics in July 2020 and Americas Cup in Auckland 2021 are expected to bring around 160 superyachts to our region – which is on the radar for superyacht owners for the marvellous cruising ground and world-class service facilities Australia offers.”
According to Superyacht Australia, over a quarter of the world’s captains and crew members come from Australia. Therefore, by supporting the charter operations of foreign-flagged vessels in Australia, the government is also supporting the careers of over 14,000 crew.
“These changes will also benefit the local superyacht charter market,” continues Good. “Regions that have a high level of charter activity receive increased international marketing exposure which then encourages further investment in locally based vessels, infrastructure and repair facilities.
“With this change introduced by the Morrison government, Australia will enjoy a similar boost to our local industry and the thousands of skilled trade jobs and economic benefits that come with it. We congratulate the Morrison government for their foresight in supporting,” says Good.
According to migratory data provided by The Superyacht Agency, in partnership with MarineTraffic, Australia has seen a gradual year on year increase in the amount of superyacht activity regionally. Indeed, since 2015 Australia has seen 43 per cent increase in superyacht visitation, determined by those vessels that have provided AIS information at least 10 times from 2015-2018.
The growth to date, however, has been hampered by domestic policy with the figures accounted for by private vessels and domestically flagged commercial superyachts. With a variety of global sporting events due to take place in the Asia Pacific region in the coming years, Superyacht Australia expects there to be around 160 active superyachts in the region and, with the change in policy, Australia is finally in a position to welcome them.
The lay consensus holds that superyachts spend from 10-12 per cent of the vessels value annually to operate, including maintenance and repair. While the actual figure varies massively depending on the size and operation of the vessel, it is without question that every superyacht represents a significant investment in products and services. Given the sizeable investments made into Australian superyacht infrastructure, including, but not limited to, marinas and refit facilities, it is expected that Australia, as well as being a chartering destination of choice, will also become a servicing hub of excellence.
In recent years, there has been a palpable shift in the use of superyachts on the part of owners and charter guests. While the Mediterranean remains the most popular cruising region globally, an increasingly large number of owners are growing tired of cruising the tried and tested destinations and living the ‘Med marina’ lifestyle. This shift has caused many owners and guests to look towards South East Asia and the South Pacific as viable alternatives.
In order to satisfy the growing demand for cruising in South-east Asia and the South Pacific, the region is in need of a hub that can service superyachts to an acceptably high standard, and Australia is ideally placed to become the glue that transforms this area of the world from one that more owners are visiting to a cruising region that is sufficiently developed so it becomes a legitimate competitor to the world’s most popular cruising hotspots.
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