Who Fled the Med?
Migratory data from The Superyacht Agency reveals how the pandemic has affected Med cruising patterns…
The Mediterranean has long been the preferred cruising ground for superyacht owners. In 2015, the month of August saw 1205 superyachts actively cruising in the Mediterranean and just three years later, they were joined by an additional 309 superyachts including 14 over 90 metres.
The data herein reinforces the notion that the Mediterranean is a dominant and unwavering superyacht hub. However, after much hearsay surrounding upturns in yachting activity based on the ‘safe haven’ concept, more recent migratory data from The Superyacht Agency has revealed that the Med actually took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic; 2020 experienced a 13% YoY decrease in the number of superyachts cruising in the Mediterranean. While, based on the stringent restrictions on movement imposed during the height of the pandemic, this is a negligible fall, many argued that superyachts acted as safe havens for the rich and pointed towards the booming financial numbers to suggest that many superyachts were now being used to their maximum potential. If that is the case, it appears that many decided not to carry out their leisurely activities in the Mediterranean, while more likely is the extent to which this became a trend was exaggerated by the mainstream media and the superyacht market itself.
It does, however, beg the question, ‘where did those vessels that left the Med go?’ Issue 195, The Superyacht Migration Report, revealed that while owners have been more inclined to break out of old habits and attempt to visit more adventurous cruising grounds, this notion did not affect the growing rate of Mediterranean cruising. The Pacific Northwest for example, had just 165 superyacht visitors during the summer months of 2015; three years later those figures jumped to 245, an increase of 49%. During the same time period the cruising figures in the Med increased by 194, an increase of 23%.
The data also revealed that there was a comparable increase in activity during the early months of 2020 in contrast to the winter of 2019. This suggests that as COVID-19 became a more pressing global issue, owners in the Mediterranean began to prepare their yachts for a year which would prove to be like no other before it. This increase in ‘activity’ can be broken down into various forms, such as putting the yacht in a new berth, relocating in preparation for refit or repair work, or even the beginning of a life on-board, utilising the yacht as a ‘safe haven’.
The data that has been garnered for the high season of 2021 so far does appear to show some promising signs, revealing that there were 135 more active superyachts in June 2021 in comparison to the same month last year. The cruising season also appears to have started slightly earlier compared to 2020, with a steep increase in activity in March earlier this year, whereas in 2020, an uptick in activity didn’t kick off until the period between April and May.
The bustling luxurious nature of areas on the Mediterranean coastline lured in many ultra-high-net-worth individuals in previous years. However, when all bars, restaurants and clubs closed down it appeared to have a big effect on areas such as Monaco and St Tropez. In 2019 there were 419 active superyachts in Monaco across the year, and in 2020 that number was reduced to just 239. In St Tropez there were 344 active superyachts, whereas as in 2020 there were just 172. As the world recovers from the pandemic and the services and events industry becomes re-invigorated, many will expect superyacht owners to return to the more traditional hotspots.
By looking at the graph more granularly, it appears the pandemic wasn’t particularly disruptive on the usual monthly trend of cruising activity in the Mediterranean. While the cumulative figure is lower, the various lockdowns and restrictions that were put in place and then lifted over the course of 2020 didn’t affect superyacht activity too gravely.
By using the slider below, see how certain yachting hotspots in the Mediterranean were affected by the pandemic. The southern tip of Italy as well as the Eastern European coastline arguably experienced the most significant change. There was also notable change in the expanse between the Balearic Islands and Sardinia.
Left - 2019, Right - 2020
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