Phuket emerging as regional yachting center

phuket1The southern resort island of Phuket is making strides towards becoming the region’s leading destination for luxury yachts with industry analysts and developers touting the gem of the Andaman Sea as the next port of preference for super-yacht owners who usually ply the waters of the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, according to the Asia Times online newspaper.

“These boats typically sail through the Mediterranean and Caribbean. This is the natural next place,” said Richard Pope, the CEO of Kata Rocks, a luxury beachfront property in Phuket that hosed its first Super Yacht Event in mid-December and drew 15 world-class luxury super yachts.

“Boats want to come here and have the exposure to clients, not just in Thailand, but throughout Asia, and China,’’ he added.

Phuket, which has four marinas and another under construction, has long had a sterling reputation among yachting enthusiasts. The island has been hosting the King’s Cup Regatta, the largest and most popular regatta in Asia, since 1987. The regatta was organized in honor of King Bhumibol Adulyadej who won a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in sailing in 1967.

The recent King’s Cup in early December was followed by the Kata Rocks Super Yacht Event and the Thailand Yacht Show. And on January 5, the Royal Phuket Marina hosted the opening of the four-day 14th Phuket International Boat Show.

More than 120 marine businesses and luxury brands from around the world participated in the event, which has become a fixture on the global marine industry calendar.

Easing taxes and regulations has served to attract more yachts and boats to Phuket and boost its aspiration to become Asia’s top yachting destination, according to Andy Dowden, Managing Director of Andaman Marine Consultants organizer of the Phuket International Boat Show.

“Following the reduction in duties and taxes on international boats from more than 200 percent to zero in 2004, Phuket has become the home base of choice for regional boat owners,” Dowden said.  “The island today welcomes more than 2,000 yachts a year and is a $350 million-a-year industry.  We expect to contribute more than $200 million to the island’s economy.”

Andy Treadwell, managing director and organizer of the Thailand Yacht Show, said the yachting sector, would continue to grow not only in Thailand, but also in other countries in the region such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

“Today, the number of super-yachts in Thailand is 120, which is expected to rise to 200 over the next few years, while there are only a few in Malaysia and currently none in Indonesia. But this business has high potential to grow,” he said.