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2016 September October Marina World

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TALKING SHOP Artist’s impression of Xiamen Marina Wuyuan Bay on the south eastern coast of Fujian Province, subsequently developed with an international exhibition centre. Bill Green Creating a leisure marine industry in Asia The Asia Pacific Yachting Conference, held at the Singapore Yacht Show 5 th - 6 th April, revealed an all round will to see the leisure marine industry and yachting market within the broad reaches of East Asia and Southeast Asia flourish. But there are many hurdles to overcome. Apart from reasonably well developed strategic hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong and more recently Phuket, marinas in these regions are relatively thin on the ground. This could, however, change if Camper & Nicholsons Marinas (C&N Marinas) proceeds with 16 potential marina projects to add to the 27 projects it has undertaken in the past seven years. C &N Marinas’ highly successful first project in China, Sanya Serenity Marina in Hainan, prompted a flurry of other business opportunities in the region including Oceania Point Marina in Guangdong. This led to the company joining forces in 2011 with First Eastern, an established Hong Kong-based investment group, to create Camper & Nicholsons First Eastern (CNFE). CNFE has a full-time presence in the region, served from offices in Hong Kong. Since 2011, CNFE has completed feasibility and concept design projects for marinas such as Tanjung Aru in Malaysia, Ana Marina in Vietnam and Haiyang International Yacht Club and several other marina projects in China and Southeast Asia. It is now working on the realisation of Tanjung Aru Marina in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo and Ana Marina in Nha Trang. Bill Green, technical director of C&N Marinas, who as vice chairman of CNFE acts as oversight manager for the business, delivered a paper at the Asia Pacific conference. He discusses the current market and its ongoing challenges with Marina World: Q: Why is C&N Marinas so committed to developing marinas in China and Southeast Asia? A: There is a significant opportunity for the likes of our business, given the huge untapped potential that exists in the market as far as quality marina developments are concerned. The region as a whole possesses some of the finest cruising grounds in the world and a host of multi-cultural attractions – perfect for those looking for that alternative and unique experience – and, from a business perspective, dynamic economics. Q: The cruising grounds in Southeast Asia are exceptional but they also present challenges? A: Southeast Asia is a vast geographic expanse extending from India to the Pacific Islands. Compared with established cruising grounds, it is approximately five times the size of the Caribbean and seven times the size of the Mediterranean. The long distances between marina destinations make for challenging sea passages that only the larger yachts or very experienced sailors would consider tackling. That in itself is possibly the biggest challenge for us all. If we are going to develop a sustainable regional marina industry, then we all have to understand and address this challenge. Q: As the distances between marinas are considerable and the current focus is on attracting large vessels (the conference concentrated on the market for vessels of 24m/78ft +), boating opportunities could be broadened by a vibrant charter market. What is the current situation regarding charter and how do you see it developing? A: Let’s be quite clear. As marinas are developed, initially they are going to be very dependent upon transient business until such time the facility-led domestic markets come into being. Establishing a charter boat market is therefore very important. Just as beach tourism needs quality hotels, marine tourism (yachting) needs good marinas with charter fleets. Chartering will be, for many, locals and foreigners alike, the ‘gateway’ to experiencing the region and, as a result, a key driver in the all-important development of a proper marine tourism industry. Hopefully, as marina hubs and networks develop and reduce transit times, the current focus on the larger vessels will be less important and a shift to the higher volume market of boats in the 10 to 15m [33 to 49ft] range is likely to come to the fore. We advise all our customers 14 - September/October 2016

TALKING SHOP Artist’s impression of Sino Australia Royal City, a marina and yacht club in the Chinese port of Tianjin. to stimulate their business by providing for charters. Q: You note that entry formalities in some countries deter yachting activities, and that high taxes on imports and luxury goods and difficulties for foreigners to own property are impediments in many countries. Is this changing? A: It is in the process of change, as the merits of having a marine tourism sector are becoming better understood by the politicians. There was active participation by representatives of the governments of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia at the Asia Pacific Yachting Conference, promoting their nations’ attributes and their dedication to building a ‘marine tourism’ industry across the region. Not only that, but they also announced positive initiatives to encourage more international vessels into the area with taxation rules being relaxed and tourist VISAs being extended, all moves which will remove restraints and enable foreign yacht owners and crews to stay in a Southeast Asian marina destination for longer. Moreover, they indicated a will to work together across borders for the greater good. Q: So you see real signs of governments working together to help create a cruising network within Southeast Asia and/or East Asia? A: Yes, I do, as expressed above, but only if we in the industry supply the impetus. We need main industry players and the likes of MIAs to lobby and seek support through the provision of clearer messages to governments as to why the sector is important to their economies and the region as a whole. Combined marketing efforts will help unification, and marketing needs to reach out further than it does at present. Trying to raise awareness through the local yachting mediums is okay, but more international exposure is required. I will go further and say that many government bodies don’t really understand what a ‘marina’ is! We really have to put that right… Q: China has been the focus of much speculation over the past decade but many new marina developments are failing to deliver to market and industry expectations. Why do you think this is? A: China is a somewhat more complicated market than other regions within Asia. I put the problem down to two major, and quite obvious issues: a flawed business model based on exclusive VIP yacht clubs, demanding excessive membership fees, and over ambitious development plans for megamarinas. The proof of China’s failure to develop a sustainable industry is clear to see with the low occupancy levels in its marinas. There are of course other issues, such as taxation on imported boats running at 46.3%, and officialdom restricting freedom of movement between ports and marinas. More modest size marinas and affordability has to be considered if the market is to grow. In turn, growth in the market will have the knock-on effect of cutting through restrictive legislation. Q: Despite the established marina infrastructure in Hong Kong and the government backed plans for a marina network in South Korea, do you think a specific region in China is set to become the major boating hub for East Asia? A: All hubs are equally important, so I would not suggest that the Chinese seaboard is set to become the major hub for East Asia. The two obvious areas for hubs to be developed in China are Hainan and Shandong Provinces. Hainan with its tropical climate has plans for several more marina developments. We have looked at several of these, but we are of the opinion that better planning and understanding of the marina and how it best integrates with the associated Serenity Marina, also known as Sanya Marina, is a 350-berth facility that opened early in 2012. C&N Marinas worked closely with architects Chapman Taylor Shanghai on the project. - September/October 2016 15

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