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USSA Summit talks cruising grounds, visas, Trump

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As the global yachting industry continues to rebound, industry leaders met just before the Palm Beach boat show to discuss cruising grounds, training and politics at the fourth annual Superyacht Summit, organized by the U.S. Superyacht Association.

Several seminars attracted much attention, including a panel on the status of the American portion of the industry.

“We have great cruising grounds in the U.S. that we ignore,” attendee Debora Radtke of American Yacht Agents said. “When I talk about boats coming to Miami, so many make the comment ‘why do they want to go there?’ It’s a great destination, and now it has dockage to accommodate these large yachts. Owners from outside the U.S. see what a great place the U.S. is. It’s safe, we have a strong economy, and a stable government.”

A session about visas and recent issues with some embassies no longer issuing B1/B2s pointed out that perhaps the reality is less significant than the stories circulating.

“From my standpoint, one of the most important things was to stop spreading rumors,” Radtke said. “Yes, we are having some isolated issues with embassies not freely issuing B1/B2 visas any longer, but if you investigate many of these cases, there has often been more to the story.”

And a session that looked at President Trump’s first 100 days and its impact on yachting decided that it was too turbulent to ignore.

“The fortunate thing for lobbying is that it’s all about sales,” said Peter Schrappen, a USSA board member and director of government affairs with the Northwest Marine Trades Association. “Meeting with lawmakers is no different than meeting with your top qualified prospect. The approach, pre-sell, visit and follow-up are the same paradigm. Now, we just need to ‘lean in’ and ‘delight’ them with what we are offering. … It’s imperative to pay close attention to what’s going on in the industry and DC.”

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