By Mediterranean and Caribbean standards, luxury yacht owners in Asia are a small community. In the whole of last year only 80 superyachts berthed in Singapore, and in the first half of this year the number fell to 29, down a quarter from a year earlier. 'Worsening piracy in the Gulf of Aden has put off potential cruising from the Mediterranean to Asia,' said Jean-Jacques Lavigne, executive director of the Superyacht Singapore Association. He noted that the cost of transit insurance, notably against piracy, had become 'prohibitive.'
Ambrosia in Hong Kong. Big boats need parking spots, too
Naval patrols in the region have been increasing to address security issues. And with the infrastructure in Asia expanding and more marinas being built with maxi yacht-scale berths, the Asia-Pacific Superyacht Association, or A.P.S.A., a nonprofit group, was set up this year to promote Asia as a new cruising destination.
The association’s 45 founding members, from 14 countries, are a cross-section of professional individuals, international companies from the superyacht industry and existing superyacht associations. Its primary objective is to promote the Asia-Pacific region as the world’s 'third cruising destination' to attract boat owners more used to cruising the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, said its chairman, Colin Dawson. 'Beside cruising, we also want to promote the region’s superyacht industry, in terms of a construction, refit, and services location,' said Mr. Dawson, who heads Expat Marine, a marine insurance broker in Hong Kong. 'There is a lot going on here.'
Each country in the region, individually, may not have all that the owners of giant luxury yachts may want, but the region as a whole has everything necessary. 'So if we all work together, we can really demonstrate to the yacht owners and captains what is on offer on a regional basis, that will hopefully attract them to come to the region,' he said.
For example, Singapore or Australia can offer good repair and maintenance yards but lack spectacular cruising grounds, while Indonesia is rich in stunning island cruising waters but lacks repair and maintenance facilities. 'The aim of A.P.S.A. is very much to work with the local superyacht associations and help them where they need help,' Mr. Dawson said. 'There are people in the region that have vast experience in different areas and can share their expertise with those who need it.'
A.P.S.A. plans to set up working groups to collaborate with governments and agencies on developing policies to encourage the growth of a sustainable superyacht industry across the region. 'One of the working groups we will be setting up will focus on crew immigration,' Mr. Dawson said. 'Some countries in the region have this worked out very well and some have not. In Singapore, for example, crew members are treated as ship crew and are allowed to stay for as long as the yacht stays. In Hong Kong, yacht crews are treated as tourists and can only stay for as long as their tourist visa allows.'