Hundreds of people from the marine leisure industry, including boat owners and marina operators, attended a meeting held on the 11th May to hear opinions on the Government’s plans to allow non-Thai-flagged boats to be chartered.
Chula Sukmanop, director general of the Marine Department commented, “Our aim was to explain what the plan for Thailand is. We want to increase the number of marinas and invite more superyachts to come to Thailand.
“We have some coming already, but they are not allowed to charter. We are going to allow them [to do this and allow crews] to stay up to one year so [they] can earn money while they are in Thailand, which will create demand from tourists.
“International standards define a superyacht as anything over 24 metres and in Thailand, we have some of that size. If we open up the market we need to make sure Thai operators will not be affected by new initiatives, so we have set a minimum length of 30 metres for [non-Thai-flagged] boats that may be chartered.
“There are a lot of yachts here but not enough marinas in Phuket. We know that many superyachts want to come to this part of the world and find a place to stay for long periods, so we are providing them with an opportunity to come to Thailand.
There was little opposition to the concept, but various people wanted to ensure environmental issues are properly taken care of, while others wanted to ensure that the regulations are easy understand.
But Gulu Lalvani, who pushed for the rule changes at a meeting in January with minister of tourism, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, said he was very pleased with the speed at which the government had responded. He commented,“We want quality tourism – not just quantity but quality people who spend money. Yacht owners are above-average wealthy. They are good for the economy. They will spend money and if big yachts are here available for charter, the rich people will want big yachts to charter.”