Thailand to open waters for foreign superyacht charter

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Thailand Marina1In its aim to lure high-end visitors to the country amidst an otherwise sluggish tourism market, Thailand plans to open its maritime borders for the foreign luxury yacht charter business.

Until December this year, regulations should be in force that allow the granting of licenses and the entry of non-Thai-flagged luxury yachts into Thai waters for chartering purposes, Chula Sukmanop, Director-General of Thailand’s Marine Department said at an international yacht fair held in Phuket in May.

The Marine Department has set a minimum length of 30 meters for foreign yachts that may be chartered, even though international standards define a superyacht as anything longer than 24 meters. The difference can be explained in a way that the department wants to protect the existing charter business of Thai-flagged yachts of up to 30 meters.

“We will allow foreign superyachts to stay in the country as they can attract high-spending foreign visitors resulting in an increase in revenue for the tourism industry,” Sukmanop said. The yachts will be allowed to stay up to one year and the crew will be allowed to stay the same length of time. Up to now, captains and crew of a non-Thai-flagged yacht were only allowed to remain in Thailand for a maximum of 30 days, and only Thai-flagged vessels were allowed in the charter business. Under these regulations, some 50 superyachts currently come to Phuket each year but they are not allowed to be chartered. With the new rules, this number is expected to increase dramatically.

As for the revenue for the tourism industry, yacht owners and operators would have to pay “water rental fees” for charter yachts that could range from 1 million baht to more than 3 million baht a week (approximately $30,000 to $90,000) depending on the size of the yacht. A deposit between 500,000 baht and 2 million baht ($15,000 to $60,000), also subject to the vessel’s size, will have to be guaranteed. In turn, the charter business will be exempt from the 7-per cent value added tax in Thailand.

YachtThe Marine Department has also undertaken a feasibility study on how to triple the number of marinas in the country. Currently, there are 11 marinas suitable for yachts in Phuket, Krabi, Trat, Chonburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces. The study found that there is space for up to 33 marinas, 22 in the Gulf of Thailand and 11 in the Andaman Sea.

Marine experts at the Singapore Yacht Show held last month saw “tremendous potential” in Thailand’s yachting industry which has so far been somehow underdeveloped. The Andaman Sea west of Phuket offers good cruising opportunities especially when Myanmar waters and islands become more accessible. Thailand’s capital Bangkok is also in “desperate need” for a superyacht marina, as it could become a key base for cruising around the Cambodian and Vietnamese coastline.

Thailand’s expansion of its yachting industry is a reaction to the fact that Southeast Asia is fast emerging as the yachting hub of Asia, with international yacht owners looking for new cruising opportunities and new chartering options. Singapore so far has been the region’s established base for luxury boating, but industry experts point at the potential in markets like Thailand and Indonesia and the rising interest of well-off tourists from China, East Asia and the Middle East to go on cruise trips on Southeast Asia.

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

In its aim to lure high-end visitors to the country amidst an otherwise sluggish tourism market, Thailand plans to open its maritime borders for the foreign luxury yacht charter business.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Thailand Marina1In its aim to lure high-end visitors to the country amidst an otherwise sluggish tourism market, Thailand plans to open its maritime borders for the foreign luxury yacht charter business.

Until December this year, regulations should be in force that allow the granting of licenses and the entry of non-Thai-flagged luxury yachts into Thai waters for chartering purposes, Chula Sukmanop, Director-General of Thailand’s Marine Department said at an international yacht fair held in Phuket in May.

The Marine Department has set a minimum length of 30 meters for foreign yachts that may be chartered, even though international standards define a superyacht as anything longer than 24 meters. The difference can be explained in a way that the department wants to protect the existing charter business of Thai-flagged yachts of up to 30 meters.

“We will allow foreign superyachts to stay in the country as they can attract high-spending foreign visitors resulting in an increase in revenue for the tourism industry,” Sukmanop said. The yachts will be allowed to stay up to one year and the crew will be allowed to stay the same length of time. Up to now, captains and crew of a non-Thai-flagged yacht were only allowed to remain in Thailand for a maximum of 30 days, and only Thai-flagged vessels were allowed in the charter business. Under these regulations, some 50 superyachts currently come to Phuket each year but they are not allowed to be chartered. With the new rules, this number is expected to increase dramatically.

As for the revenue for the tourism industry, yacht owners and operators would have to pay “water rental fees” for charter yachts that could range from 1 million baht to more than 3 million baht a week (approximately $30,000 to $90,000) depending on the size of the yacht. A deposit between 500,000 baht and 2 million baht ($15,000 to $60,000), also subject to the vessel’s size, will have to be guaranteed. In turn, the charter business will be exempt from the 7-per cent value added tax in Thailand.

YachtThe Marine Department has also undertaken a feasibility study on how to triple the number of marinas in the country. Currently, there are 11 marinas suitable for yachts in Phuket, Krabi, Trat, Chonburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces. The study found that there is space for up to 33 marinas, 22 in the Gulf of Thailand and 11 in the Andaman Sea.

Marine experts at the Singapore Yacht Show held last month saw “tremendous potential” in Thailand’s yachting industry which has so far been somehow underdeveloped. The Andaman Sea west of Phuket offers good cruising opportunities especially when Myanmar waters and islands become more accessible. Thailand’s capital Bangkok is also in “desperate need” for a superyacht marina, as it could become a key base for cruising around the Cambodian and Vietnamese coastline.

Thailand’s expansion of its yachting industry is a reaction to the fact that Southeast Asia is fast emerging as the yachting hub of Asia, with international yacht owners looking for new cruising opportunities and new chartering options. Singapore so far has been the region’s established base for luxury boating, but industry experts point at the potential in markets like Thailand and Indonesia and the rising interest of well-off tourists from China, East Asia and the Middle East to go on cruise trips on Southeast Asia.

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