Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Sydney, Australia

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Sydney, Australia

Purpose

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

An influx of visiting yachts is bringing financial rewards to the southern hemisphere.

By Julia Zaltzman | 23 June 2020

Australia, with its pristine beaches, abundance of wildlife and favourable climate has long been a big hit with travellers. Now, it is destined to become an international cruising hotspot, as new legislation is passed, meaning foreign-flagged superyachts can charter in Australian waters. The positive implications for both guests and the wider region are untold.

“The Great Barrier Reef and Sydney are the two iconic drawcards, while the Kimberley region of North Western Australia has also become popular,” says David Good, CEO of Superyacht Australia. “We expect that with our new charter laws, vessels will start to include some other outstanding regions such as Tasmania, Kangaroo Island and South Australia.”

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

GREAT BARRIER REEF. PHOTO: TOURISM PORT DOUGLAS AND DAINTREE

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

GREAT BARRIER REEF. PHOTO: TOURISM PORT DOUGLAS AND DAINTREE

Hollywood actor Will Smith is reported to have been the first to take advantage of Australia’s change in charter legislation, jumping on board Hemisphere – the largest luxury sailing catamaran in the world – within days of the laws passing in December 2019. Departing from Cairns, they cruised the Great Barrier Reef up to Raine Island. The 52m motor yacht Deniki was the second to take a foreign charter, this time in Sydney, New South Wales, while Tasmania has the record for the largest visiting superyacht with 84m Aquijo.

Good recommends the South Western Australian region of Albany, Esperance and the Margaret River as alternative cruising grounds with big appeal, and foreign charter yachts in excess of 80m are now able to cruise the Great Barrier Reef, just in time for both minke and humpback whale annual migrations. But the uptick of superyachts within the entire area has larger ramifications than simply boosting the country’s reputation as a tourist haven.

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Sydney, Australia

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Sydney, Australia

“In 2019, visiting foreign superyachts injected an estimated $64 million AUD in direct spend and we predict this to increase by 300% over the next three years,” says Good. It’s not just Australia that is set to benefit either. A wider and far-reaching economic impact is felt by the whole of Australasia.

According to Peter Busfield, executive director of New Zealand Marine, superyachts are the biggest economic advantage to holding the America’s Cup – a prestigious sailing regatta – in Auckland in 2021, with 122 yachts already registered to attend. When 39m Ganesha booked a three-month refit in New Zealand combined to coincide with the America’s Cup, it was expected to pour more than $2.7 million NZD into the local economy.

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Auckland, New Zealand

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Auckland, New Zealand

It’s a similar story with the Tokyo Olympics, says Good: “With the Olympics in Tokyo happening only four months after the final in Auckland, yachts may very well spend up to two years in this region. The financial injection from that will be huge, and having the owners and guests in the region will likely lead to future private investment in resorts, wineries and real estate as we know people will fall in love with the area.”

For Fiji, an archipelago in the South Pacific made up of more than 300 islands, its pristine waters attract more than 700 yachts each year, staying for an average of 82 days and delivering a total economic contribution of $60.6 million FJD. For Fiji’s main yachting centres of Denarau, Vuda, Savusavu and Musket Cove, $21.6 million FJD of this spend is directly fed back into local businesses and communities via yacht maintenance, provisioning and hospitality, as well as cultural and tourism activities.

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Fiji. Photo: Cookson Adventures

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Fiji. Photo: Cookson Adventures

“The top three popular Fijian cruising destinations are the Lau group of islands – one of the best cruising destinations of all time and a definite highlight of any world cruise, as well as Kadavu, Bega, Vanua Levu and Taveuni,” says Cynthia Rasch, CEO of Port Denarau Marina. “But really, among the 333 islands, there is so much to explore.”

With the migration of yachts generally following the trade wind patterns, over half of the yachts that arrive in Fiji come from island groups to the east, such as Tonga, the Cook Islands, Samoa and French Polynesia. Rasch reports a near equal split between those turning south to New Zealand and those continuing with the trades towards Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Auckland, New Zealand

Superyachts and the economy of Australia and beyond

Auckland, New Zealand

And an influx in vessels means a surge in local jobs and a boost to the economy. The larger the yacht, the bigger the budget. While Fiji’s marinas are well regarded in the region for accessibility, mooring security and a range of shoreside services, both New Zealand and Australia offer world-class marinas, with the latter now boasting the world’s largest marine travel lift in Cairns.

“We are starting to see more vessels enquiring about homeporting in the Great Barrier Reef region, with many charter yachts looking at strategically placing themselves here to have their important maintenance work completed,” says Joanne Drake, manager of Super Yacht Group Great Barrier Reef. “Superyachts strategically basing themselves here will also be well-positioned to cruise the magnificent grounds of the South Pacific. It’s a win-win.”

With most superyachts likely to spend at least a year enjoying the many cruising grounds of Australasia, and with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on refit and maintenance in the last year alone, it’s clear to see why the Southern Hemisphere is doing all it can to promote the idyllic waters in its back garden.

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