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2021 January February Marina World

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SUPERYACHT FACILITIES Big boats are back in Phuket Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, between 1,300 and 1,500 yachts visited Phuket, Thailand every year, and in the very early part of 2020 superyacht visits were at a record high. While taking essential precautions to ensure coronavirus continues to have low impact on health throughout the country, action has been taken to help reverse the economic downturn occasioned by the loss of visitors. In September 2020, the Thai Government agreed to allow foreign tourists prepared to undertake a 14- day quarantine to stay for at least 90 days. Two extensions, each of a further 90 days, were also approved. These so-called Special Tourist Visas were welcome news for the tourist industry in general and, most specifically, for the superyacht sector. Superyacht agency Asia Pacific Superyachts (APS) was keen to see this translate into permission for owners and crew to quarantine on board their vessels, and marinas in Phuket were enthusiastic about reopening. “Marinas are playing an increasingly important role globally and in southeast Asia,” says APS co-founder Gordon Fernandes. “Phuket marinas can handle all the needs of a superyacht, and berths are available for yachts up to 130m [430ft] at any one of Phuket’s many fully-equipped marinas. There is a growing superyacht labour force and excellent docking facilities.” Within a few weeks, APS was able to clear its first foreign-flagged superyacht client into Phuket. All occupants quarantined onboard. In November, the Marine Department confirmed that yachts could be moored for quarantine in two areas in Thailand – Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Chonburi and Ao Por in Pa Khlok, Phuket. The area in Phuket normally used for yacht mooring is located about 6.2km (3.8mi) southeast of Ao Por pier and 2km (1.2mi) east of Koh Naka Noi. The area has depths of over 10m (33ft) and is large enough for over 100 yachts. Crew aboard the yachts currently have to quarantine on board for the required 14 days. The Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command, based on Cape Panwa, monitors the yachts to ensure they remain in the allocated area and tracks them via an Automatic Identification System (AIS). After the quarantine period aboard the yacht has elapsed, and assuming subsequent COVID tests are negative, the crew is allowed to moor the yacht at the marina of choice and travel within Phuket in the same manner as those who arrive on the island via air travel. Maldives clear for foreign flags The Republic of the Maldives, an increasingly favoured superyacht destination, lifted COVID-19 restrictions for foreignflagged vessels in September 2020. “We noticed that a lot of yachts chose to visit the Maldives quite early in the season last year as vessels were aware that Maldives regulations/restrictions were relatively easier compared to the rest of the yachting destinations,” noted Mohamed Hameed of Asia Pacific Superyachts. “We are potentially looking at a very successful and happening season ahead for 2020/21.” “Most yachts still choose to be anchored near Bandos Island Resort when guests are not on board and/or while waiting for guests…and a few superyachts are choosing to go to the Yacht Marina at Crossroads. However, there are only two slots big enough for 60m [197ft]. Crossroads is mainly used to stay on anchor when there are no guests as it’s a great place for crew entertainment,” he added. The arrival/departure process usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes if all documents are completed well in advance and no restrictions are imposed on any specific nationals. Everyone entering the Maldives needs to provide a negative COVID test result, conducted 72 hours prior to departure for the republic. A Traveller Health Declaration form must also be submitted by all travellers within 24 hours prior to travel. The Maldives has been awarded the Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the world’s first ever global safety and hygiene stamp. – January/February 2021 31

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