Thailand Yacht Show 2016 - In the Rear View Mirror
It was only a few short months ago that the Government of Thailand announced the appointment of 3L Events to organize the inaugural edition of the new Thailand Yacht Show (TYS), to be held at Ao Po Grand Marina – a world-class international boat show, but with a core focus on the ‘big’ end of the market: Superyachts, and superyacht charter.
This news came on the back of a declared intention by the government to promote and develop Thailand as the principal yachting hub for the Asia Pacific region. Its first initiative to help develop the leisure marine industry was to issue charter licences allowing superyachts to operate legally in Thai waters – legislative encouragement rather than bureaucratic discouragement. The final piece in the puzzle – the waiving of VAT on vessels ‘imported’ into Thailand for charter purposes – is expected to be put in place very soon.
Against this background, Mr Andy Treadwell, Managing Director of TYS, was delighted to welcome to Ao Po Grand Marina the Deputy Prime Minister General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, accompanied by an entourage of Ministers of State and Directors from the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Ministry of Transport, the Marine Department of Thailand and the Tourism Authority of Thailand. VIPs were treated to a tour of the pavilion exhibits, a visit to the pontoons where more than 40 boats – motoryachts and sailing yachts ranging from 40ft up to the magnificent M/Y Titania at 73m (236 ft) – were on display. Lunch on board Titania gave the Deputy PM and the Ministers a favourable, if brief, introduction to the top end of the yachting lifestyle - and, more importantly, a first hand appreciation of the economic impact such vessels would bring to Thailand’s economy if they were encouraged to stay for the whole season.
During the four days of the show, the official number of visitors through the gate was 4,668 - an understatement that omits repeat visitors. “With such a short lead-in time,” said Treadwell, “it was always going to be about quality rather than quantity. We are delighted with what we have been able to achieve in just three months – imagine what we can do with a whole year’s planning and marketing!”
And certainly the quality was there – both in the boats on display and the calibre of visitors. “We would always rather talk to a small number of serious customers than to a large number of ‘casuals’, said Vincent Tabuteau, MD of Asia Marine. “This Show is going to be invaluable in helping to raise the profile of the marine charter business in Thailand, and that’s exactly what Thailand should be concentrating on – the potential is absolutely huge, and that means earning for the local economy.”
Many visitors to the TYS were quick to notice that the pontoons were double-width, allowing not only for easier foot traffic, but with space over for exhibitors’ and dealers’ booths, and even pop-up bars and food stations, on the pontoon itself. It made for a very convivial atmosphere ‘down on the docks.’
Exhibitors both local and international declared themselves pleased with the inaugural Thailand Yacht Show. Josh Lee, CEO and Founder of Lee Marine whose base recently moved to Ao Po Grand Marina, said, “This is a properly international show. We were delighted to be part of the inaugural event – thank you to everyone involved and to all those who attended.” Major charter brokers Burgess Yachts, who manage some of the world’s largest superyachts for sale and charter, were delighted with the potential business generated by visitors, reporting ‘substantial’ enquiries for charter. “The time has come for Thailand to open its doors to the charter industry, and properly embrace the whole marine leisure scene,” said Burgess broker Mark Woodmansey. “There’s so much potential here. The TYS has arrived at the right time, and is the right vehicle with which to go forward.”
The second edition of this long overdue, all-embracing yacht show will be, indeed, bigger and better. The organisers are currently conferring with industry stakeholders to determine the optimum dates, to be announced shortly.