Rich Asians displaying wealth by cruising in superyachts

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dubai international boat show
Photo - Dubai International Boat Show 2012

Asia’s newly expanding yachting class is facing overcrowding issues as the newly rich across the continent are spending more money on buying luxurious big boats as a sign of prestige.

Less than 4% of the world’s 7000 superyachts belong to Asian owners and the numbers have been increasing thanks to the change in their interests during the last five years, Reuters said in a report.

“We had a guy turn up a few weeks ago in a Lamborghini and say ‘Look, my friend has just bought the same Lamborghini. What can we do different?'” Simon Turner, the Singapore-based director of yacht brokers Northrop and Johnson, told Reuters.

“So we got some boat brochures and he said ‘I’ll buy one’. It was done in five minutes. That’s a $10 million yacht.”

Despite the hardships Western economies are facing today, Asia is marching on the path of growth and wealth creation.

According to the 2011 Merill Lynch-Capgemini World Wealth Report, North America has around 3.4 million wealthy people with high net worth, followed by Asians with 3.3 million people. Europe has 3.1 million rich people with high net worth.

Yatch industry has become the main attraction and trend among Asia’s super rich. Last week, the Asia-Pacific Superyacht Conference was held in Singapore where the world’s largest boats and super cars were on display in lavish VIP lounge, accompanied by free champagne and mouth-watering meals by Michelin-starred chef Pascal Aussignac.

The show also showcased the biggest boat, 57-metre (187-foot) MY Montigne, which was open for sale at a whopping price of $21.8 million. Simpson Marine – a brokerage said the boat has three – mast sailing yacht with six en-suite staterooms, massive saloon with paino, an art audio visual system throughout along with an extensive water sports toys list.


Jean-Jacques Lavigne, the executive director of Singapore Superyacht Association, said Hong Kong leads the market for luxurious boats in Asia while Thailand, China, Indonesia and Singapore are the fastest growing markets.

“We are all here in Asia for one reason – to serve the people who are mariners and make a lot of money. The big fight is really in production boats, new ones,” he said.

The established boat builders and all the firms related to boat industry are prioritising their focus only to the “gloom and doom in Europe” than on the young Asian buyers at present.

“You’ve got to sell new stuff and change your way of thinking,” Lavigne told the delegates.

Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand have overcrowded marinas which are the biggest concerns and challenges for the industry as well as the sailors. Countries like China and Indonesia face more uncertainties as they need proper infrastructure.

“It’s a question of how can we manage growth and provide facilities. We have a massive shortage of crew and there’s very little training for them out here in Asia,” Turner said.

“Big yachts are owned by entrepreneurs and important business people so if they come to your country with their yacht, they want to see good service, facilities, assistance in a forward-looking country.”

Westerners mostly value the privacy, luxury, adventure, lifestyle, family time and a place to do business but varying it to their own levels. Asians also share the same values but like to have some entertainment on board.

“They ask for a karaoke room, for a mega-cinema room, things like this that they can enjoy with their friends,” she told Reuters. “And a disco or a spa,” Francesca Ragnetti, trade marketing manager of Italian Azimut Benetti Group, which has offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong said.

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