Photography by Tourism Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is now a designated customs and immigration clearance point for the international superyacht fleet.
The decision to include the Southport Yacht Club on the list of approved international arrival points comes after years of lobbying by marine industry stalwarts including Trenton Gay, CEO of Gold Coast City Marina and Shipyard (GCCM), who was recently awarded as the Industry Champion for the Marine Export Sector by the Australian Marine Industries Export Group.
Internationally flagged superyachts will now be able to enter through the Southport Seaway directly to a dedicated berth at Southport Yacht Club where AQIS and Border Control officers will clear the crew and any guests onboard.
The new facility is a welcomed development for the city’s thriving yachting and boating industry in the lead up to it hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“It is a great step forward for our industry and timely as well,” explained Mr Gay. “It will consolidate our position as a superyacht hub by allowing more yachts and their tourism revenue to flow into our local economy in the lead up to next year’s games. This is in addition to the AUD$410million the marine industry in South East Queensland already pumps into the national economy,” he continued.
The Gold Coast has long been a boating mecca but is increasingly becoming a preferred destination for superyachts looking to refit due to the unrivalled lifestyle and entertainment benefits the area has to offer.
“Superyacht crews just love spending time here on the Gold Coast. The amazing beaches, the incredible year round climate and the many and varied entertainment options make it a great place to drop anchor while maintenance and refit works are completed,” said Mr Gay.
Due to increased demand, GCCM has made major investments into a new 250-tonne straddle lift, working berths for yachts up to 65 metres with 400-amp power and vehicle access along with imminent plans to introduce additional refit bays, new waterfront offices, crew lounges and ensuites.
Likewise, the Southport Yacht Club has increased its capacity to welcome the larger yachts.
Mr Gay and GCCM were instrumental in attracting this new service to the Gold Coast due to their standing in the marketplace. GCCM is located at Coomera, less than 10 nautical miles from Southport, and is Australia’s most comprehensive shipyard and refit facility. It operates two straddles lifts, 50,000sqm of hardstand space, 18 refit sheds accommodating yachts up to 50 metres and over 65 marine trades on-site, making it the largest facility of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
“GCCM is the cornerstone of the 250-hectare Gold Coast Marine Precinct and is a major employment hub. It was imperative to us to have this service on the Gold Coast. It not only supports our yard but also our tenants and the surrounding marine precinct.
“Most importantly, it allows us to show the world the Australia and the Gold Coast has world-leading craftsmen, boat builders and marine trades,” said Mr Gay.
As part of its continued development, GCCM recently appointed industry-titan, Kevin Altera, to the newly created position of Project Management Director. Kevin brings to the facility years of experience in yacht building, international project management and exacting standards expected by superyacht clientele.
Those yachts currently undergoing refits, as well as those making use of the new clearance point to refit at GCCM, will be managed by Kevin as he continues to expand the refit and repair division.
“The Gold Coast currently welcomes 20 international yachts per year spending well in excess of AUD$1million on berthing, refit work, re-provisioning, tourist activities and more. With this development and the America’s Cup returning to New Zealand, the number of yachts will undoubtedly increase over the coming years and we are ready to assist them with their refit, maintenance and repair requirements,” stated Mr Altera.
The industry’s momentum is set to continue with positive developments expected later in the year around greatly increased accessibility for these yachts to select areas of the Great Barrier Reef, solidifying Australia’s global position as the latest superyacht hotspot.
“This development is welcomed by Superyacht Australia. We see that it will not only be great for the Gold Coast industry but shows the global superyacht fleet that Australia is working hard to provide easy points of entry and ensuring that these points of entry offer the key facilities and services that superyachts are looking for,” said Superyacht Australia CEO, MaryAnne Edwards.
“We have worked with the authorities in the Great Barrier Marine Park to identify and open new anchorages for superyachts which should come online later this year providing even greater access to cruising superyachts over 35 metres. This will bring more larger yachts, more tourism dollars, more work to our shipyards and marinas.
“This is just the beginning.”