Build it, they’re coming

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The recent Club Marine/MIA “Health of the Australian Marina Industry Survey” shows some good data on our preparedness to handle super yachts.

The survey of Australian marinas builds on previous data released in 2009, 2011 and 2013. The research is a result of a unique long term research partnership between the Recreational Marine Research Centre (RMRC) at Michigan State University and the MIA with the active participation of many Australian marinas.

The Survey provides extensive data and analysis based on a robust 40% sample of Australia’s 346 marinas. From the considerable industry input, it’s evident there is a rising demand for storage spaces and customer services.

This is important data for infrastructure companies as well, whose business and employees rely on marinas for their livelihoods. The survey tracks capital investment as an indicator of major projects and gives us the ability to undertake strategic planning.

And while there are strong figures for direct and indirect employment around marinas, continued demand for diversifying services, and plenty of opportunity for growth, there is a need to ascertain if we have enough berths in the correct places for super yachts.

According to the Survey, nearly a third (31.5%) of Australian marinas participating in the survey that had berths/pens were able to accommodate super yachts during 2014-2015 financial year, and half of such marinas can accommodate four or more superyachts at the same time. 40% of these marinas were also able to accommodate superyachts anywhere outside the berths/pens over 24m long. Moreover, about 13% of marinas that were able to accommodate superyachts during the 2014-2015 financial year anticipate they will build/prepare additional storage spaces (eg. berths/pens) specifically for superyachts in 2015-2016.

About two-thirds of marinas currently do not have superyacht-sized (24.1 m +) berths or have such large spaces but currently are not able to actually accommodate superyachts. However, about 19% of them are able to accommodate superyachts elsewhere (eg. at tie-ups) and nearly 9% anticipate to build/prepare additional storage spaces (eg. berths/pens) specifically for superyachts in 2015-2016.

As the marketing momentum builds, positioning our region as the ideal “third cruising ground” after the Med and Caribbean, industry stats show we are nowhere near ready for any increase in superyacht visitation.

AIMEX/Superyacht Australia hosted the 2016 ASMEX conference, at which arose the details of the South Pacific Superyachting strategy. Captains, charter brokers and AIMEX-SA stated there is a concerted effort to attract a small portion of the world’s superyacht fleet to Asia and the South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand, generating interest via regular presentations at key superyacht and charter shows such as Monaco, Singapore and Genoa.

Superyachts and charter guests are being lured to Australia with messages about pristine coastlines, unique experiences and events, from Tasmania to the Kimberley Coast. In fact, there are three superyachts berthed now at Abell Point Marina, gateway to the Whitsundays.

Paul Darrouzet and the team at Abell Point have been extremely proactive in the quest to attract superyachts downunder, even flying in charter experts from Florida to show them the majesty of the Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef so they may influence superyacht Captains and Owners into bringing their vessels to Australia on the northern hemisphere off-season for several weeks charter work, as well as refits and repairs – thus ensuring revenue to the local industry, considered some of the best in the world.

The report indicates, however, a need to study the preparedness for this trend.  Cairns has long been a stop off point, but how many berths on the voyage south down the east coast allow for this anticipated growth?

What the stats say is that for the 346 marinas: 

  • 40% or  138 marinas can accept a SY over 24m in a berth with the mean taking 3.5 vessels at once
  • 13% of this number are planning on adding SY berths  or 18 projects
  • 65.7% of marinas (227) cannot accommodate 100ft SY and of that number 8.9% (20)are considering adding berths.
  • 9% can hardstand a vessel over 100ft.

This shows a steady progression that may not meet demand in the not too distant future, especially once the location of these berths has been pin pointed close to the demand..  The “build it and they will come” philosophy seems to require more confidence yet in the marketplace.

This type of information is valuable, and we are now looking to build on it, seeking local Universities to collaborate on this project using this information to determine wider trends that identify opportunity.  This will initially include a benchmarking exercise to other recreational industries.  Then the demand for non-berthing applications at marinas can be demonstrated to show the social, environmental and destination protection opportunities that remain untapped in the industry.

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