NEWS — Australian Government reviews superyacht charter regulations

Australian Government Reviews Superyacht Charter Regulations

Superyacht Australia has forwarded a submission to the Australian Government asking for an urgent review of the regulations affecting superyachts wishing to charter in Australian waters. The current regulations, says the peak body, are seen as a barrier to growing the superyacht industry locally and Australia is currently losing ground to other countries who have addressed this issue.

The submission estimates that Australia would see a doubling of superyacht arrivals and a subsequent doubling of revenue for the country, as well as an increase of jobs for the sector, if the current charter regulations are relaxed.

According to the group, Australia is facing increased competition from other Asia Pacific countries that have understood the significant economic return their countries can get from this sector. It cites Fiji as an example, where relaxed charter regulations returned more than $US3million from five charters in 2011.

“The potential is huge and this drive to open up the superyacht charter market is supported by the Government’s 2020 strategy focused on attracting high-yield tourists looking for those high-end quality products,” states the Superyacht Australia press release. Adding, the Australian superyacht industry is poised to take advantage of the significant growth in high net-worth individuals coming from the emerging markets of Asia, China and India.

Superyacht Australia says its sector has to a large extent been unaffected by the Global Financial Crisis, returning Euro 24 billion to the global economy in 2010, and Australia only attracting a tiny percentage of this.

It claimed the economic scope is “enormous” for the local industry, as an owner will spend 10 per cent per annum of the superyacht’s value in operational costs, including maintenance, crew etc.

MaryAnne Edwards, CEO of Superyacht Australia said if action wasn’t taken now to address the barriers, competition in places like Tahiti, Fiji and New Zealand will be firmly established, leaving Australia behind.

“The economic return to the country and the jobs it would create is significant,” said Edwards. “There is really no downside to this issue as the Government is receiving no revenue from this charter sector currently because we are being bypassed for countries that make it easier for visiting superyachts to charter.”

Superyacht Australia said the global superyacht fleet totals 4209 yachts, all more than 30m in length. The group reiterated that relaxation of the charter regulations would have a huge flow-on effect for industries involved in refits, repairs and provisioning. “A superyacht that comes to charter is far more likely to then undertake key refit work while in the country. This work is now going to our competitors,” said Superyacht Australia.

It continued that reports suggest the global superyacht fleet is looking for new and exciting destinations and are tiring of the traditional cruising grounds in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Australia, it said, is that “new destination” with the ability to service high-end clients and provide the iconic and unique experiences being sought by superyacht owners.

With the new marketing campaign driven by Tourism Australia also focusing on these high-end experiences, Superyacht Australia says the opportunities for this charter tourism sector to increase revenue for tourism and other key sectors is huge, especially considering that for every $1 spent on tourism there is a flow-on effect of 91 cents to other parts of the economy.

“It is a huge step forward for us that the Government is looking at this issue and has passed our submission down to Treasury and Customs for review,” said Edwards.

“We see no downside for the Government just positives in terms of job creation and significantly increased revenue from this sector. At a time when we are looking for export revenue, to create more jobs and look after regional areas across all States and boost tourism numbers, the response has to be positive,” she said.

Superyacht Australia adds it is doing considerable work to remove the barriers to growth within this sector, including the 35-metre rule in the Great Barrier Reef, pilotage costs and the need for increased infrastructure.