Yacht charter firms eye 'booming' ME market
Abu Dhabi, February 16, 2010
Leading global yacht chartering companies believe the Middle East has a strong potential to become a preferred luxury yacht chartering hub, thanks to expansion of the region’s superstructure, particularly marinas, and a growing vessel support network.
“Traditionally areas such as the Caribbean and the Bahamas, the West and East Mediterranean, as well as the Indian Ocean remain favourites for many clients with a large choice of yachts and tried-and-tested cruising areas,” said Amanda Armstrong, charter broker at Burgess Yachts, a leading professional superyachting service.
“Clients, however, are always on the look-out for new destinations and if the large superyachts become available there – and they will given the kind of infrastructure development taking place – as well as good accessibility from all over the world, then the Middle East will become very popular in the years to come,” she pointed out.
Armstrong admits the Middle East is an extremely significant market for the company. “Charter demand from Middle Eastern clients has maintained a steady pulse and represents around 10-15 percent of our charter business. We are naturally keen to maintain our presence and increase our reach throughout this area,” she added.
Charlie Birkett, CEO of YCO Group, a leader in charter management and luxury yacht sales, said the company has a number of clients in the Gulf and also boasts of a number of managed yachts that occasionally cruise the area.
'We are planning on expanding our operations in the Gulf; we already have one representative permanently based there and we hope to expand this over the coming years,' he noted.
Luxury living is almost a byword for the Gulf and the multitude of landmark developments underway throughout the region is growing marina lifestyles. A fascinating series of marinas are taking shape, making the Arabian Gulf possibly the yachting industry’s biggest growth market over the next decade.
Though many Gulf nations have a long and treasured seafaring heritage, the latest wave of waterfront developments has taken the region’s marina lifestyle to a whole new level.
Abu Dhabi in particular is becoming increasingly popular among leading superyacht charter brokers. During the inaugural F1 Etihad Airways Grand Prix held at the Yas Marina Circuit, chartered yachts spotted during the race weekend included various Benetti and Azimut megayachts..
“The images of these fabulous yachts, from which owners, charterers and their guests followed the race weekend created lasting impressions that bolstered Abu Dhabi’s aspirations to be a leading destination for superyachts in the region,” said Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), headline sponsor of the 2nd Abu Dhabi Yacht Show, being held at Yas Marina later this month.
According to Sheikh Sultan, the charter brokers were important partners for selling this region and ensuring their proper exposure. 'With marine leisure expected to play an increasingly important role in advancing Abu Dhabi’s tourism growth, we are keen to support initiatives – such as the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show – which will help companies explore opportunities for expanding or obtaining new business,' he added.
Industry experts said that while people were looking for a change, would-be alternatives to the popular Mediterranean and Caribbean yachting destinations need solid offerings of convenience, diversity, culture and safety at comparable costs.
“High-end restaurants, resorts and shops, easy shore transportation, modern marina facilities, easy provisioning for yachts, comfortable and interesting cruising areas, safety, and of course cost are all factors that steer a final decision,” explained Armstrong.
The Abu Dhabi Yacht Show’s successful inaugural edition last year proved it had the clout to assemble a pantheon of the world’s highest net-worth individuals, drawn together by shared interests and passions. Captains of the industry will mingle with Middle Eastern royalty and the Gulf’s most famous faces at this month’s upcoming edition.
Some 24 of the world’s most impressive superyachts are confirmed for the show, and registered exhibitors have exceeded last year’s figures.
“This is testament to how ADYS has become an important platform for industry players to gather, network and do business,' said Franck Dailles, Group director of Informa Yacht Group (IYG), organisers of the event.
'We have put together a comprehensive programme, special events and activities where guests and exhibitors can discuss opportunities as well as issues and challenges that will help boost the region’s aspirations, in particular Abu Dhabi’s, to become a leading global yachting hub,' he noted.
Held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, ADYS will take place from February 25 to 27.-TradeArabia News Service