The inaugural edition of the Thailand Yacht Show (TYS) was blessed many times over. When the Show closed its doors at 19.00pm on Sunday to the traditional salute from all the yachts present, it was after four days of uninterrupted blue skies and sunshine that made for optimum boat show conditions. The well-appointed Ao Po Grand Marina set the scene and provided the perfect location.
Strong Government support in the form of financial commitment, as well as the administrative backing of the Marine Department of Thailand, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Transport facilitated the actual operation of the event, as of course did the management support of the Marina staff. The TYS organising team, under the baton of Managing Director Andy Treadwell, put together a 43-boat show with vessels ranging from 73m to 13m, making this definitely the ‘big boat’ show for the region.
And all this in just a little over three months – a remarkable achievement, sparked by the announcement at the end of last year that charter regulations in Thailand are to be relaxed. This is intended to have the effect of stimulating the super yacht charter industry in Thailand, establishing Asia as the ‘Third Destination’ for superyacht owners and charterers after the Mediterranean and the Caribbean (although Treadwell insists he wants it to become the second), and acting as a catalyst for the further development and growth of the marine leisure industry as a whole.
TYS included not only the in-water exhibits, but also an air-conditioned pavilion of a further 40-odd exhibitors ranging from marinas and regattas to chandlers to upholsterers. Visitors to the Show first visited Registration in the pavilion before moving on to the marina and the boats on the pontoons. During four days, 4,668 registrations were recorded, although some experienced ‘eyes’ on the dock put the figure much higher – noting that many visitors re-entered the Show on multiple days.
Eric Noyel of Asia Marine Yacht Services, Numarine dealer, said, “This location is excellent – there is room for the Show to grow. We are happy to see big boats here, it’s a sign of things to come. Visitor numbers were moderate, but that is to be expected at a first show.
Quality visitors are more important than quantity, and that’s what we have been seeing.” Major yacht brokers Burgess Yachts, who handle some of the very biggest super yachts and most prestigious charter parties in the world, were delighted with the potential business generated by visitors, reporting ‘quality’ enquiries for charter.
A 34m yacht on display reported purchase enquiries. Across the board, dealers acknowledged that while traffic was relatively low, quality of enquiries was high.
Mike Simpson of Simpson Marine, another high profile regional dealer and charter broker, said, “We are delighted to see big names and big boats here – this is the first time that they have been able to get into a boat show in Phuket, which is the natural first port of call for superyachts arriving in Asia. This show is the shape of things to come – and they will soon be bigger, and better.”
The Thailand Yacht Show, by the same organisers as the immensely successful Singapore Yacht Show, aims to showcase both the Thai leisure marine industry and Thailand as a destination. “This is a properly international show,” said Josh Lee, CEO and Founder of Lee Marine, one of Thailand’s biggest yacht dealers. “We were delighted to be part of the inaugural event – thank you to everyone involved and to all those who attended.”
Local government regulations concerning chartering, immigration, customs and revenue are currently undergoing substantial review. Charter Licences for superyachts are already being issued, but there are still some details to finalise. The intention is to make Asia, through Thailand, more accessible for superyachts, and thereby attract more business from European and US superyacht owners and charterers. At that point Phuket will truly become the ‘hub of yachting’ in Asia, and the Thailand Yacht Show will be its epicentre.