Setting sight

With more visiting superyachts than ever before, the local marine industry and tourism sector is set to surge.

02 June 2020


Under the endless blue skies of Australia, where every day on a yacht is a new and splendid adventure, it can seem like the world is our oyster – something foreign-flagged superyachts are also beginning to realise.

Data released recently by Superyacht Australia shows that foreign-flagged superyachts stayed in Australia for an average of 73 days in 2019 compared to an average of just 41 days in 2018.

This surge represents a 79-percent increase in the length of stay, however the economic impact – at just over $63,873,000 – is no less significant.

Equating to a 60-percent increase on 2018’s already impressive figure of $39,843,000, these numbers are predicted to only continue to rise as a result of the federal government’s passing of the Special Recreational Vessels Act 2019 last December.

In fact, with foreign-flagged superyachts finally allowed to charter Australian waters for up to 12 months, the tide has already turned. Indeed, Cairns saw its first charter client the same month the bill was passed when Hollywood actor Will Smith chartered a superyacht out of the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.


But the good news doesn’t end there. Over the next three years, it is expected that Australia will see a further 300-percent increase in visitation as a direct result of the passing of this legislation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Queensland saw the highest number of visiting vessels in 2019 along with the longest duration of stay, generating an 87-percent increase compared to the previous year.

David Good, CEO of Superyacht Australia, noted: “The Queensland Government has supported the industry through their Superyacht Development Strategy.

“Establishing a fund that helped Queensland businesses attend overseas events, and for shipyards to meet the international compliance standards required for this high level of work, has certainly paid off in terms of visitation.

“It has also encouraged significant private investment in the refit and maintenance industry in Queensland, which in turn means substantial jobs for marine trades.”

After Queensland, the highest visitation was seen in NSW, followed by Western Australia and Victoria. Tasmania had the largest visiting vessel. With a length of 84 metres, S/Y Aquijo also has the tallest masts of any yacht in the world.

Superyacht Australia, working in partnership with Tourism Australia, has actively promoted Australia at international events and boat shows, as well as through publications and campaigns, to showcase the signature experiences that Australia can offer visiting superyachts.

As Captain Gerhard Veldman from S/Y Aquijo commented after cruising our waters in early 2019, “Tasmania was a great surprise. 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 interesting sailing opportunities. The locals were friendly and helpful, and keen to ensure we had a truly memorable experience. Tasmania is definitely a hidden gem.

In addition to the stunning cruising grounds and iconic tourism opportunities offered to guests and crew, Australia offers refit and maintenance facilities and services that rival anything available in Europe and the USA.

“Over $150 million has been spent on refit infrastructure in Australia in the past 12 months alone,” reported 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.”

Good continues, “The longer a vessel stays in the Pacific, the more the whole region benefits. With the current low incidence of COVID-19 in the region, we will remain a popular destination for these vessels for some time.”

In 2021, the Pacific will host both the America’s Cup in Auckland and the Tokyo Olympics. Both these international events are predicted to bring even more superyachts into our region and the number of high-value travellers that this will bring to Australia is significant.

Further, with an estimated tripling in foreign-flagged vessels visiting our waters, it is predicted that 11,800 jobs will be created for Australians to service these vessels.

Given the challenges the world is facing, it would seem at least in this sense, Australia is set to remain the lucky country.

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