Just days after the new legislation was passed, Will Smith became the first ever charter client onboard an internationally-flagged superyacht when he took to the waters from Australia’s tropical paradise of Cairns. The actor may not know it, but his escapades Down Under coincided with a watershed moment. The news was met with a mixture of excitement and relief by an Australian superyacht industry that has been fighting for this change for the last 20 years. Now, it will reap the rewards.
Following the example of other countries in the South Pacific region to have opened up to charter, Australia expects to see a 300% increase in superyacht visitation over the next three years. The possibility of charter provides an added incentive for superyacht owners and Captains to visit the Australia’s spectacular cruising grounds, and profit from the country’s diverse lands and all-year-round season. The latest figures to be released by representative body Superyacht Australia demonstrate that, despite the difficulties of the past few months, a trend of superyacht migration is being noticed.
Superyacht Australia’s data revealed a 79% increase in the length of stay for foreign flagged superyachts. The average stay of an international superyacht in 2018 was 41 days, which rose to 73 days in 2019. This has provided a significant stimulus to the Australian economy through the extensive supply chain that services the superyacht industry. In 2018, the impact of superyachts on the Australian economy was already impressive at $39,843,000. In 2019, this rose by an incredible 60% to reach over $63,873,000 – and this is just the beginning of what promises to be a huge period of development in the Australian superyacht industry.
The state of Queensland received the highest numbers of superyacht visitation, an 87% increase on 2018, fruit of the region’s outstanding natural attractions and the commitment of its industry to becoming a regional superyacht hub by 2023. “The Queensland state government has supported the industry through their Superyacht Development Strategy,” explains David Good, CEO of Superyacht Australia. “The state government established a fund that helped Queensland businesses attend overseas events and for shipyards to meet international compliance standards required for this high level of work.
“This type of government support has certainly paid off in visitation and encouraged significant private investment in the refit and maintenance industry in Queensland, which in turn means substantial jobs for marine trades.”
Such a steep rise in generated income should not come as a surprise when the strength of the country’s shipyards and infrastructure is taken into consideration. Even over the last few months there has been the opening of a stunning new Superyacht Yard at The Boat Works, as well as confirmation of a $100M investment to be made at Rivergate Marina & Shipyard.
“There has been over $150M spent on refit infrastructure in Australia in the past 12 months alone,” reveals Good. “This is the benefit we provide vessels in the Asia Pacific region; they do not need to venture all the way back to Europe or the East Coast of the USA for world class survey or refit services. The longer a vessel stays in the Pacific, the more the whole region benefits and with the current low incidence of COVID-19 in the region, we will remain a popular destination for these vessels for some time.”
As we reported last month, there is already a growing trend in superyacht migration to Australia as the South Pacific region comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed. As a superyacht destination, it is hard to find anything comparable to Australia. Diversity can be considered its great strength, with experiences ranging from the kaleidoscopic colours of the Great Barrier Reef to the rugged Kimberley. Australia manages to generate the intimacy of a small island while benefitting from the might of a first world country.
84m S/Y AquiJo was the largest superyacht to visit Australia in 2019, and Captain Gerhard Veldman has spoken glowingly about his unique experience. AquiJo toured the cruising grounds of Tasmania, an island with striking natural beauty which speaks volumes for Australia’s pedigree as an all-round destination.
“Tasmania was a great surprise!” says Captain Veldman. “Both the guests and crew fell in love with its isolated beauty. Tasmania is ideal for a two-week cruise as there are so many great and interesting sailing opportunities. The locals were really friendly and helpful plus keen to ensure we had a truly memorable experience. Tasmania is definitely a hidden gem.”
Tasmania is certainly not the only hidden gem to be found in Australia and exploring by superyacht unlocks exclusive opportunities. Superyacht travel in Australia has been boosted by the involvement of Tourism Australia, who have worked closely with Superyacht Australia to showcase the signature experiences available throughout the country. Among these experiences are The Luxury Lodges, offering bespoke accommodation and superyacht-style service to a select number of guests in some of Australia’s most remote areas.
Further positive news from Australia is on the horizon. The start of this week has already seen two foreign flagged vessels confirm charters for next month, and there is great reason to stay in the region. In 2021, the Pacific will host both the Americas Cup in Auckland and the Tokyo Olympics. Originally, around 150 superyachts had registered interest in visiting for the Americas Cup, and the timing is perfect considering the new opportunity in Australia. For superyachts, a whole new playground has been opened up, while for Australia, more than 11,800 jobs are expected to be created from a tripling in visitation.