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March April 2019 Marina World

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The magazine for the marina industry

whoever said you can’t

whoever said you can’t mix business with pleasure never owned a freedom boat club franchise Direct Inquires to Jordan Jennings

BOAT SHARE CONCEPTS Sunsail has a fleet of 538 yachts for bareboat charter. The customer trend is to charter larger boats. Chartered territory Chartering offers all the pleasures of a boat without the responsibility of owning one, giving enthusiasts an accessible way to get out on the water. Charlotte Niemiec looks at the global charter industry and how it is helping footfall in marinas. The global yacht charter industry is booming, expected to expand by 5.4% to reach US.86 billion by 2026, according to a 2018 Business Wire market report. While the boom is largely driven by an increase in luxury cruising by ‘high net worth individuals’ (HNWIs), in the so-called ‘sharing economy’ – particularly among younger consumers – it is little wonder that boat rental is increasing. Owning a boat is often costly and further capital and time is required for maintenance. Modern charter options span the gamut, ranging from dinghys to motor boats, canal boats to superyachts. Boaters with a licence may charter a boat alone (bareboat charter), while those unqualified can select charter with a skipper. Today, charter companies operate in almost every region around the world, offering a more affordable opportunity for boaters to explore new regions. The market is dominated by a few large international companies with high turnover, together representing around 80% of the market. These companies include Sunsail, Le boat, Footloose, Dream Yacht Charter (see separate story p.25) and Kiriakoulis. And, rather than compete with marinas, charter companies help bring life to otherwise staid ones, says Jon Wilson, regional operations manager – Med and Exotics, for Sunsail and The Moorings. Established in 1974, Sunsail has a fleet of 538 yachts for bareboat charter, while The Moorings has 400. Both offer their services in over 20 destinations. Charter operators often have a symbiotic relationship with marinas as they provide customers for the bars and restaurants and ensure the marina looks “alive” all year round. “If marinas were just full of private yachts,” he says, “there would be less atmosphere and use of landside facilities as private yacht owners in general only spend four to six weeks a year on their yacht.” Europe dominates The European market represents around a third of global charter and is estimated at around €5.8 billion, according to the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA). The most comprehensive report in recent years is a 2015 EU ‘Study on the competitiveness of the recreational boating sector’, compiled by economic research and consulting company Ecorys. It says the Mediterranean alone attracts 70% of world charter, with the UK, Croatia, Italy and Greece leading in terms of bareboat charter offerings. And this region is expected to experience the most rapid growth, with projections of 7.2% by 2020. Europe profits from a very attractive sailing area, which has the potential to be well connected to inland activities. “New business models following the trend of higher charter demand, such as cruise style chartering or skipper charter, offer opportunities to further develop in the future,” the report says. Inevitably, the most profitable areas in which to operate are those popular with boaters. Wilson says Sunsail and The Moorings make selections based on the popularity and desirability of the cruising ground – and the marina’s proximity to the best parts of the cruising area. “We look to make sure the base our customers arrive at allows them easy access to the best locations in the area, with transfer time from the airport around 20 minutes. Good examples of this are our bases Charter boat options are broad and include vessels for specific leisure uses, like fishing, and for use as ‘party boats’. - March/April 2019 19

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