Southeast Asia Yachting Conference 2023 Highlights
Over 150 regional and international yachting experts participated in the Southeast Asia Yachting Conference 2023 (SEAYC) held at ONE 15 Marina, Sentosa, Singapore on the 26th April 2023. Part of the Singapore Yachting Festival 2023, the conference was the perfect platform to showcase that Asia is now back in action!
It has been three long years since Asia’s yachting professionals gathered to discuss issues facing the industry. Arthur Tay, Chairman of ONE˚15 Marina, the host sponsor for the Conference, welcomed delegates and thanked Wade Pearce the Founder and Director of SG Marine Guide for stepping up and organising both the Conference and Singapore Yachting Festival in a very short time-frame. “After a three-year hiatus from the last event, we are delighted to support this event, which has brought key industry professionals together.
Conference MC, Wicky Sundram Executive Director of Phuket Boat Lagoon, and a long-standing Asian marine industry expert welcomed the line-up of 24 speakers and panellists, and noted that this year’s conference had brought together top Asian and international industry experts.
Darren Vaux, the President of ICOMIA was the keynote speaker. Keen to engage with the emerging yachting communities of Southeast Asia, his inspirational presentation outlined his views on the future of the leisure marine industry. “I am going to start with a simple premise: boating enriches people’s lives and simply being in, on or around water changes your perception, promotes calm, reduces stress, and promotes an overall sense of wellbeing. We are in this industry, we understand that, but the reality is that we need to change people’s perspective about our industry.”
“So how do we do it? We need governments to understand that we have a significant industry that contributes over USD$300bn to the global economy. The leisure boat industry is also a significant tourist generator, and we should use education vs regulation to be proactive in developing the industry without too many regulation hurdles to cross. We need to recognise we have a voice and we need to express that voice. Alongside that we must have a clear industry vision of what our industry needs to be.”
Vaux said it was up to the industry to deliver high-quality products and services and to recognise that the industry is changing. “The delivery of the boating experience will change in the future with new versions of clubs, charters, and share boat ownership arrangements, and there are even autonomous boats on the horizon,” said Vaux. “It is not just ‘buy a boat and away you go’. We all know that the leisure boating industry globally boomed during the pandemic, as we found new customers who turned to boating as one of the few new activities, they could do without travelling overseas. This boom is now waning so the industry needs to find new markets and Asia is high on the list with its fabulous destinations and growing middle class incomes.”
The morning presentations focused on five SEA countries: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Each session covering: immigration policies and procedures, cruising regulations, marinas, marine infrastructure, shipyards and refit facilities, yachting events, conferences, festivals, and regattas.
Ditapong Thitadilok, President of the Thailand Yachting Boating Association (TYBA) and MD of Phuket Premium Marina, talked about the fantastic cruising grounds of Phuket and the six marinas that currently offer over 1,200 plus berths. New facilities are coming online and these include the PSY shipyard that will be able to cater for superyachts up to 65m, and lifting facilities for yachts up to 64m LOA, as well as a new superyacht marina Port Macchanu that is currently in construction. Thitadilok talked about the new superyacht charter license for yachts over 30m, that now allow foreign flag yachts to be able to stay in Thailand for up to two and a half years. Events coming up include Thailand Charter Week, a B2B charter event from the 16-19 November at the Yacht Haven marina, and Thailand International Boat Show at Royal Phuket Marina in January 2024.
Scott Finsten, the Harbour Master at Ocean Marina, Jomtien, then talked about the east coast of Thailand. Finsten, an Australian marina expert moved to Thailand in 2010 to manage the Ocean Marina Yacht Club and marina. Since then, he has implemented two phases of expansion. First increasing the marina from 200 berths to 380, and then dredged the marina basin to accommodate superyachts, and increased the haul out capacity with the acquisition of a 75-ton Marine Travelift. Finsten outlined entry and exit procedures and changes that have been implemented post Covid. Promoting the cruising grounds on the east coast of Thailand which include Koh Chang, Koh Mak, and Koh Kood (Nov to Apr) and Koh Samui, Koh Phangnan, Koh Tao, and Ang Thong (Mar to Sept). Finsten believes that this is a potential growth area, with its 43 beautiful islands in the Pattaya region, and its proximity to Bangkok.
Malaysia was next, with Alvin Teh Wei Loong, Association of Marine Industry Malaysia (AMIM) and Sazli Kamal Basha, Cruise Marine Tourism Association of Malaysia and Sail Malaysia Rally covering the marine facilities and cruising grounds of Peninsular Malaysia as well as Malaysia Borneo. According to Teh and Basha, 90% of yachts in Malaysia are in transit and cruising sailing yachts are the bread and butter of the industry. They estimate the yacht population is around 1000 yachts, with the major events being Sail Malaysia Passage (Apr to Aug), Sail Malaysia Passage to Langkawi (Nov to Dec), the Raja Muda Selangor International Regatta (Nov) and the Royal International Langkawi Regatta (Jan). There is strong network of ship repair and maintenance facilities, due to its proximity to the gas and oil industry, and Labuan Shipyard and Engineering recently undertook refit and maintenance work for the 40m M/Y Lady Azul, and the 51m M/Y Promise.
Indonesia presentation was by Prakash Reddy, who has worked in the Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam marine leisure industry since 1999, and is currently the Marina Manager for Nongsa Point Marina and Resort Indonesia. The countries unique and extensive cruising grounds are one of the world’s best kept secrets, and Reddy outlined the entry procedures and vessel declaration systems which include health and customs declarations. He recommends that visiting yachts contact a marina or agent before entering, as local knowledge makes the extensive paperwork easier to handle.
Kent Tan, General Manager of Catalano Shipping Singapore is one new generation of highly dedicated individuals who initially pursued a career in marine engineering before discovering his passion for yachting. Tan believes Singapore has all the infrastructure in place to provide the technical support and services required by visiting superyachts, thus making it Asia’s yachting hub. Tan outlined the entry and arrival procedures and some of the international events that help to attract HNWIs such as the formula 1 Grand Prix and SailGP.
The final presentation for the morning was by Ruurd van Putten, the Southeast Representative for Marinetek. Van Putten has over 20 years of experience in the yachting and marina industry, and moved to Vietnam in 2007. Van Putten outlined some of the established and emerging destinations of the SEA cruising region, along with some of the marine facilities available in Vietnam. Ana Marina Nha Trang is open and operational and Van Putten shared the extensive bi-lingual guide to port entry procedures with the audience, (which caused some smiles). Van Putten recommends using a yacht management company’s if vessels are planning a visit.
The afternoon sessions were a change of pace with moderator lead discussion panels that focus on four key topics: superyachts, charter, yacht management, and technology.
The superyacht panel moderated by Ewa Stachurska, the global marketing and business development director for Simpson Marine. She was joined by YH Fang the founder of Yachting Singapore a yacht agent, and two superyacht captains Capt Goh Thye Hock, a local Singaporean who has successfully completed numerous marina and yacht construction projects, and Capt Andrew Meyer who has over a decade of experience in the maritime industry and has lead numerous vessels around the world, both within the private and commercial sector. The panel discussed how Asia can attract more foreign owned vessels to the region and how to make it easier once these vessels arrive. More promotion on what services and destinations are available was the top of the call for action, along with working with the relevant SEA authorities to streamline entry and exit procedures.
MC Wicky Sundram moderated the Charter Panel and he was joined by Benjamin Tabuteau, the GM of Asiamarine Thailand, Kirsten Ringsing a Director of YACHTZOO, the Monaco based charter brokerage house, Julian Chang Senior Yacht Adviser to BURGESS Asia and a board member of The International SeaKeepers Society, and Quek Wee Teck who runs the local Association of Boating Charters Singapore. Discussion focused on bringing foreign flagged charter vessels to Asia, especially those looking for adventure. Again, there was a call for action to make regulations more transparent and streamlined regulation so the charter industry can continue grow in Asia.
The Yacht Management Panel moderated by Colin Dawson founder of The George Group, who partners with Howden, the insurance brokerage house, was joined by Hilda Loe Managing Director of Hilda Loe Associates who represent yacht registration services for Maritime Cook Islands; Clive Parton the Academy Director of Galileo Maritime Academy and Nazimi Topcuoglu, MD and Senior Marine Surveyor at Fema Marine who provide specialist yacht management services. Discussions covered Insurance issues, professional standards, crew training and yacht regulations and it was agreed that all aspects of the industry need to implement more professional standards for the future.
The final Technology Panel moderated by Darren Vaux, included Joerg Kalisch, MD of Dexmarine, a marine electrical supply and propulsion service provider; Chris Thompson MD of Seakeeper stabilizers refits and Simon Turner, marketing manager for Sunreef Yachts, the eco-friendly catamarans that are solar powered. It was agreed that new technologies are the way forward and to go green when feasible, and to look into new technologies for safety equipment.
Sponsors and supporting partners for the conference were ONE˚15 Marina, SG Marine Guide, Asia-Pacific Superyacht Association, ICOMIA, and Singapore Boating Association. Catalano Shipping Singapore sponsored the conference networking morning and afternoon teas, Marinetek sponsored the networking lunch, and Sevenstar Shipping hosted the Happy Hour drinks.