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Asia-Pacific Yacht Industry High-Level Forum 2019

by Suzy Rayment, Asia Yacht Press 1 Nov 17:59 PDT 25 October 2019
Asia-Pacific Yacht Industry High-Level Forum 2019 © Guy Nowell / Macau Yacht Show

MC and moderator for the Forum was Andrea Richey (Asia Yacht Press) who introduced the sessions that focused on three specific areas: Developing the Sailing Yacht Economy, the Greater Bay Area (GBA), and Yachting and Marine Economic Development. The welcome speech was delivered by Wang Yong, GM Development Planning Division of Nam Kwong Group who sponsored the Show and Forum. Wang highlighted the extensive and synergistic networks that make up the Group’s core businesses.

Keynote speaker for the Forum was Tong Shing, President of the Hong Kong Sailing Federation and a Council Member of World Sailing. “Hong Kong has 170 years of sailing history and continues to expand its sailing footprint with a number of international events in the pipeline. Hong Kong is part of the GBA and is an ideal location for the promotion of sailing as it has easy access to the water, and favourable conditions for both dinghies and keelboats all year-round, and good infrastructure through clubs and associations. Youth training programmes should be the focus going forward if sailing is to continue to develop in the region.”

Above: (L-R) Wang Yong and Tong Shing

The second session was a panel discussion which focused on the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and the Development of Yachting. Lawrence Chow, Chair of the newly-established Hong Kong Boating Industry Association, talked about the leisure marine industry association which already has a membership of 42 companies and is providing the Hong Kong leisure marine industry with a much stronger voice. The GBA economy and its waterways are at the centre of boating development in the region. Hong Kong is looking forward to hosting a marina tour next year when the International Council of Marine Industry Associations Congress is held in Zhuhai in 2020.

Macau Yacht Club President Albert Chuck spoke about how Macau has a central role to play in the development of boating in the GBA. Macau’s marine facilities are limited, as are its cruising grounds. Despite this, in recent years there has been increasing community involvement in the sport and a better understanding of boating in general.

Above: Session 2: (L-R) Andrea Richey with Speakers Lawrence Chow, Albert Zhou, Wen Huan, and Ye Run-Nian

Wen Huan, the President of the GBA Yacht Club, spoke on marine and environmental matters in the GBA, expressing the need for boating fees and regulations to be restructured in order to facilitate a wider participation in the sport of sailing and boating in general. Working closely with the Guangdong People’s Congress and the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Congress, he noted there has been an explosion in car ownership and infrastructure. Yachting will also become more popular, but the current complex regulations and high taxes need to be addressed to make pleasure boating more accessible for the general population.

The last speaker on the panel was Ye Run-Nian, President of the Shenzhen Boating Industry Association and GM of the Shenzhen Airport Hongzhou International Yacht Club. Ye talked about the growth of marinas, yacht clubs and regional associations in Southern China and how they are helping to promote the boating lifestyle in the GBA. “There are more berths than boats” said Ye, and like Wen, suggests that the issues to be addressed are the boating regulations and costs surrounding the ownership of boats in China.

Above: Session 3: (L-R) Donald Chow, Joe Yuen, Liu Dian-Fang, Roger Liang, and Hu Xiao-Ming.

Marine Economy Development was the final topic for the forum and Donald Chow, the Development Director of Fisherman’s Wharf, highlighted the enormous potential of leisure boating in the enclave. Chow believes that the development of pleasure boating will be beneficial for the GBA on many levels. Chow gave a simple example, “It’s not just about boat ownership, you need to consider indirect benefits to the economy though creating marine jobs in manufacturing, maintenance, chartering and tourism, because as the boating community grows so does the supply and demand.”

Joe Yuen, Council Member of the APAC Superyacht Association and Chief Rep for Burgess, explained that chartering of superyachts is still an unknown experience amongst many wealthy Asians. “How do we get more yachts to the GBA for chartering and how do we encourage the superyachts to come to Asia?” Yuen believes that local regulations are part of the problem and that superyachts would be willing to come if the rules and regulations were more transparent and followed international standards.

Above (L-R) Donald Chow and and Roger Liang

Liu Dian-Fang, Executive Vice President, Xiamen Yacht Association explained that private yachts in Xiamen also face challenges with regards to boating regulations, such as prohibitions on sailing at night and limits on passenger numbers, but these issues are starting to be addressed and some foreign certificates are now being accepted which is all positive for the future of yachting in the GBA and China.

Hu Xiao-Ming, Vice President of Sanya Yacht Association, was at the forum to promote Hainan as a new yachting destination, with a number of ports now opening up to private leisure boating as of June 2019. Hu believes that it is Hainan’s unique environmental attributes that will draw boat owners. Whether it is diving, fishing or just cruising, Hainan, and specifically Sanya, are ready to welcome yachts.

The final speaker for this session was Roger Liang CEO of Kingship Marine Ltd, who has been building big boats for the past 12 years in his Zhongshan shipyard, near to Macau. “We have a highly skilled workforce that can work in steel and aluminium, and shipbuilding is still a very labour-intensive operation. China’s fibreglass builds are not as advanced as the shipyards in Taiwan, but China could be very good at making expedition superyachts.” Kingship’s most recent launch was a 24m multihull aluminium catamaran that was built for use on a lake in China. China is a new market, and it is very important to understand the needs of the clients of this emerging market.

Above: Closing Speaker: Andy Treadwell

Andy Treadwell, CEO of Verventia Ltd was the concluding speaker for the Forum. Treadwell, the owner and founder of the Singapore Yacht Show and Thailand Yacht Show, believes that the whole of the industry, from sailboats to superyachts and all the businesses in between, will only develop if governments understand the huge potential economic impact and social benefits that a developing boating industry would bring. “Superyacht tourism is an opportunity and superyachts want to discover Asia, but current regulations are stopping them. We know 250 out of 5,000 superyachts in the Mediterranean who would be interested in coming to Asia in the winter, but they don’t come because they cannot charter. If they came for a season, they would collectively spend in the region of 1 billion dollars, and which would have a big impact on the local economy.”

Treadwell believes collaboration is the key to development, and if key industry players can work together to lobby governments in the right way, then the market will flourish. “Like the sport of sailing, where competitors come together to race in regattas, we need to instill the team spirit in the industry and grow the pleasure boating industry together.” Collaboration is the way forward and Macau can certainly be a central player in this game!

The Forum concluded with the Hainan – Macau Individual Travel Cooperation Signing Ceremony which promotes the boating lifestyle attractions of Hainan to the residents of Macau and the GBA.

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