Regulations in Thailand set to change for superyacht owners

A leading yacht agent in Asia, Asia Pacific Superyachts (APS), has been in talks with the government of Thailand to get visas and yacht charter regulation laws changed.

Gordon Fernandes and captain Charlie Dwyer of APS have shared updated news of changing regulations for superyachts, with news published in the Phuket Gazette newspaper in April 2015.

A special ‘task force’ has been formed to come up with viable suggestions for changes to visas and yacht charter regulations to help boost marine tourism in Phuket, with a working deadline for rolling out the changes by 2016. 

Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, tourism minister, revealed to the Phuket Gazette in an interview, “The task force comprises officials from relevant government agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Immigration Bureau.

“We are working together to come up with suggestions for changes to visas and other regulations that would be best for the country. This includes changes that will boost the chartering of foreign-flagged superyachts in Thai waters.

"Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has pledged his full support for bureaucratic changes to help boost marine tourism. Minister Prajin confirmed that he had met with PM Prayut, who he said pledged his full support for improving all aspects of marine tourism, including yacht and superyacht charters.

“This is an important issue, as any changes will affect different types of visas and businesses. We must also consider internal security and safety measures a top priority, but I will support the changes suggested because it means a lot for tourism. We hope to have new rules in place by the end of this year to help secure the island’s position as the top yachting destination in the region.”

The move to overhaul the visas and laws regulating yacht charters follow a meeting with Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong and Gulu Lalvani, chairman of the Royal Phuket Marina, in January. 

At the meeting, minister Kobkarn vowed to raise concerns voiced about crew visas and the chartering of foreign-flagged superyachts.

She commented, “Changing the regulations in order to develop our tourism is a must in response to heightened competition from other yachting destinations in the region. It will take time for the suggested changes to be presented to the cabinet and approved, but we are making good progress.”

Among the changes to ramp up marine tourism in Phuket is the push for a multi-million-baht harbour expansion at the Deep Sea Port at Ao Makham.

Kobkarn added, “Current regulations allow only one-year concessions to operate ports, but we are looking at what can be done to allow long-term concessions.

“We are looking at becoming attractive hosts for yachts, cruise liners and superyachts – all for long-stay, not just short stays. This is what we aim to do and I hope to have a clear picture set by the end of the year.”

For more information, visit Asia Pacific Superyachts.

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