Like the name implies, superyachts are for the super wealthy. These are yachts usually decked out with elegant furnishings and equipped with state-of-the-art navigation systems, expensive toys and gadgets that would make James Bond blush with envy.
“Superyacht” is a term used to describe yachts that are more than 24 metres in length, kept in tip-top shape by a full complement of crew which includes a skipper, deck hands and a chef – just to be sure that all the whims and fancies of the yacht owner are addressed.
Destinations in the Mediterranean and the exotic Caribbean come to mind when we think of the rich and famous. The ultra luxe cruising boats in St. Tropez, watching the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix from the privacy of one’s own yacht on the calm Mediterranean waters while sipping a glass of champagne, or cruising the crystal blue waters of the Bahamas…
But Asia? A superyacht playground?
Don’t dismiss the notion just yet.
According to Arthur Tay, the Chairman of the Superyacht Singapore Association, Asia is fast becoming the next hot destination for superyacht owners. The owner of not one, but two superyachts himself, Mr Tay has seen the number of superyachts visiting Singapore rise gradually over the past few years.
He expects the tiny island state of Singapore to see 200 visiting superyachts by the year 2015.
In 2008 alone, he saw four new foreign-owned superyachts calling Singapore a home port. Just another example of the rising affluence of the super-rich strata in the Asian region, in particular Chinese wealthy businessmen.
The Superyacht Singapore Association estimates the market for superyachts in the Asia-Pacific region to be worth around USD 350 – 500 million a year. The growing affluence in the economic powerhouses of India and China is also fuelling the growth of superyachts owners in the region.
While the superyacht industry went through a big dip in the economic downturn over the last couple of years, builders and industry watchers are cautiously optimistic that the market will rebound as soon as consumer confidence stabilises.
A recent industry report points to signs of better things to come, stating that November 2010 as a record month for the superyacht market. The total value of superyachts sold by asking price broke through the USD 2.5 billion barrier , a huge jump from the USD 1.9 billion figure from the same period in 2009.
It could have been the oncoming Christmas season of gifting, but the fact that 22 yachts over 24 metres were reportedly sold in November 2010, for which the total asking price was more than USD 500 million , is an indication the super-rich are spending once again.
And this segment of the market is no longer confined to the developed economies of Europe and North America. A 2010 – 2011 research report on the Chinese yacht industry estimated that the Chinese market for luxury boating is around USD 440 million with an annual growth rate of about 10 per cent. According to Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus, “Buying a super yacht is the new trend for Chinese business owners. It give them a tremendous social prestige to be able to invite their business partners to sign a contract on their yacht”. Mr Gervois added “The Singapore Yach show is definitely the best yachting event in Asia, and it targets the wealthiest potential super yachts owners: the Chinese ones.”
The Chinese HNWI represents a largely untapped market for the moment, as yachts are still considered high-grade luxury goods that even the ultra-wealthy keep away from. With no historic yachting culture, the idea of owning a leisure craft is slowly but surely gaining a hold on the imaginations of many a Chinese billionaire as they aspire more and more to a lifestyle that is enjoyed by their European counterparts.
Countries like Singapore are tuned in to these upcoming market developments. The Sentosa Cove development on the resort island of Sentosa not only welcomes buyers with yachts, the nearby ONE°15 is no stranger to superyachts docking at this luxurious marina club.
While Singapore has the greatest concentration of millionaire households at 11.4 per cent of the country’s total 5.1 million, there is still room for growth as Singapore can host up to 28 to 30 superyachts at any one time.
There are also concerted efforts to look into the lucrative superyacht refit and repair market, as Singapore focuses on capturing a slice of the growing yachting market.
“By all accounts, the economy in Singapore has continued to grow in spite of the global financial crisis, and combined with a booming tourism sector, this bodes well for the luxury sector, including yachting. Singapore’s open economy, broad range of luxury and lifestyle events and new tourism offerings such as the two new Integrated Resorts, are draws for superyacht owners to come and explore the region.
“Singapore and the beautiful South-East Asia region could well become the ‘Third Destination’ for long-time yacht owners based in the Mediterranean. Many of them are becoming disenchanted with the Caribbean as a winter base, but are not aware of the stunning cruising grounds that await them if they would just venture down here,” said Andy Treadwell, Managing Director of the Informa Yacht Group.
“We need to get them to come East for their winter rather than take the usual route West to the Caribbean, to experience the fantastic levels of service, the extraordinary scenery, and the almost limitless expanses of deserted waters,” asserted Mr Treadwell.
Due to the growing demand for superyachts in Asia, the Informa Yacht Group will be hosting the Singapore Yacht Show from 8 to 10 April 2011 at ONEº15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove.
Commenting on the why Singapore was chosen as the venue for the show, Mr Treadwell said: “By running this new show in Singapore, and the now well-established Asia Superyacht Conference alongside, we will be providing an impetus to focus the industry’s attention on the huge potential for development in the region.”
The Singapore Yacht Show and Superyacht Conference could just be the first step to breaking down the perception barrier for potential superyacht owners. The Shanghai Travelers’ Club (the famous luxury travel club for Chinese millionaires) will promote this event in China and add its touch of glamour to the event!
The showcase of ultra luxury yachts at the exclusive ONE°15 Marina Club at Sentosa Cove will hopefully also whet the appetite of more than one Chinese billionaire for a taste of the good life on the high seas, injecting more demand in the region for these exclusive toys.
For more information, visit http://www.singaporeyachtshow.com/