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India, Indonesia highlight potential in Asia Boating Dialogue


Asia Boating Dialogue online session covering South and Southeast Asia reveals the large long-term potential for yachting in the world’s second and fourth most populous countries.

The second and final session of this year’s Asia Boating Dialogue is on September 29

Speakers from seven nations in South Asia and Southeast Asia took centre stage in the Asia Boating Dialogue’s first free Zoom webinar, with over 160 industry professionals updated on industry statistics, business trends, marine updates, boating regulations and destination insights.

India, the first country to be profiled, is projected to overtake China as the world’s most populous country within a decade and has 7,500km of coastline, featuring 12 major ports.

After a long period of little development of yachting – the country’s last boat show was in 2010 – presenter Aashim Mongia from the Indian Marine Federation (IMF) said significant progress was being made at a government level to grow recreational boating and marina development, due to the potential rewards from coastal tourism.

A new marina in Mumbai and increasing domestic interest in charter mean boating could soon be on the map for a country that has a growing middle class and good weather for much of the year.

“In the next couple of years, there will be a massive thrust as the Government has realised the potential of this industry,” Mongia said. “It has been a slow process, but over the years we have engaged with the Government and now we have support and approval for development of boating infrastructure and new regulations are also coming into play.”

The seven presenters and three hosts from Session One of the 2020 Asia Boating Dialogue

Sri Lanka to the south is also making strides when it comes to recreational boating. Gamini Herath, from the Boat Building Technology Improvement Institute (BTI), said that “although Sri Lanka is not a boating nation, there are small advances that show there is a growing demand for recreational boating in the country. A new ministry has been formed to oversee yachting development and there is a fledgling ship building and yacht charter industry.”

Indonesia is arguably Asia’s second-most popular yachting destination after Thailand, and has vast growth potential for both domestic boating and yachting tourism, with 17,000 islands and a population of about 273 million.

Representing the Indonesian Marine Tourism Association, Robin Engel was upbeat about the industry’s progress made during the two terms that President Widodo has been in power.

“There has been a swing away from big cruise-ship tourism to smaller more sustainable vessels that connect this island nation and local tourism,” Engel said. “With borders closed, this has stimulated the local domestic boating market and as a result there will be opportunities here in the future.”

Singapore’s Darren Oh, who heads up the Singapore Boating Industry Association (SBIA), outlined the strengths of the economy along with the current local boating regulations and infrastructure.

“We are home to Asia’s biggest yacht show and Singapore has a number of top-quality marinas; it’s just unfortunate we don’t have much in the way of cruising grounds,” Oh said. “With the Covid-related lockdowns, there has been an increase of local charter activity and brokerage sales, but we still need to look to neighbours like Indonesia and Malaysia for easy access to good cruising destinations.”

Representing the Association of the Marine Industries of Malaysia (AMIM), William Quah said Malaysia’s pleasure boating was starting to stagnate despite a decent network of marinas, an active sailing culture, and good shipyards for refit and repairs. “We are lagging our neighbours and need to catch up especially in areas such as charter,” Quah said.

As such, the AMIM is currently talking to Malaysian Government about activating a five-stage strategy to stimulate the growth of pleasure boating throughout the country.

Thai Yachting Business Association (TYBA) representative Peter Jacops outlined the vast impact that the Covid lockdown has had on tourism and the boating industries, especially charter, while Apa Ongpin, representing the Federation of Philippines Marine Industries, highlighted that the Philippines was recovering from the “world’s longest lockdown of 77 days from March to May”.

“The forecast is flat for 2020, but there will be post-Covid opportunities in the future,” Ongpin said. “It’s a small industry with only five to 15 new boats a year entering the market. The industry will continue to grow as the primary boating market is upper-middle class and wealthy private owners, with a secondary market of property and resort developers.”

Registration is also free for Session Two (East & Northeast Asia), which will be held on September 29 (16:00 SG/HK) and feature speakers from China, Hong Kong & Macau, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.

An update of the Asia Boating Forum that started in 2015, the new Asia Boating Dialogue initiative is a cooperation between the Singapore Yacht Association and the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association, with the support of ICOMIA.

Basco Boating, Asian Yachting Academy and Fountaine Pajot are gold sponsors of the 2020 Asia Boating Dialogue, while Groupe Beneteau Asia Pacific, Mercury, ONE°15 Marina, Simpson Marine and Volvo Penta are silver sponsors.
                                                                                                                – With thanks to Suzy Rayment / Asia Yacht Press