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Cruising Grounds

Australia’s yacht industry wants government to ease charter restrictions

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The first economic impact study on Australia’s superyacht industry has revealed a high value niche sector, which contributed a total of $1.97 billion to gross domestic product (GDP) in the 2016 financial year.

But the study, performed by AEC Group, also found the industry is held back by restrictive policy. If policy were relaxed, the industry could contribute an additional estimated $1.12 billion to GDP by 2021, for a total contribution of $3.34 billion.

“This study shows the significant economic potential of Australia’s superyacht industry,” said MaryAnne Edwards, chief executive of AIMEX, the Australian International Marine Export Group. “If the government fixes our legislation so foreign superyachts have freedom to charter here, like they do in New Zealand, our local superyacht industry would grow substantially. We could see an extra 8,100 local jobs, making a total of 24,400 jobs by 2021.

“We are seeking standalone legislation to relax regulations in the superyacht sector,” she said.

The study was commissioned by AIMEX and supported by the Queensland government to gain a clear understanding of the superyacht industry’s current and potential economic contribution.

Currently, few international superyachts come to Australia because the current legislation makes chartering there expensive. A superyacht must be fully imported and 10 percent GST on its value paid before it can charter.

Easing restrictions would cause GST revenues from superyachts to grow fivefold to $118.3 million, the report noted.

Businesses in the Whitsundays, hit this spring by Cyclone Debbie, want the Australian government to enable the local superyacht industry to grow.

“We desperately need the superyachts back this year — to boost our morale after the cyclone, give us jobs, spend some money and get tourists back to the town,” said Janal Casey, owner of Whitsundays florist Flower Hut.

“The superyachts spend up to $5,000 with us in one hit — that’s just flowers, let alone meat and other produce – and we’re just a tiny shop that deals with them,” she said.

“It’s a huge business all around the world and it could be here, too,” said Don Cameron, owner of Master Butchers. “The Whitsundays is just as nice as Monaco or Greece, where you’ll be tying up 30 to 40 superyachts in the major ports. When the superyachts are restocking for a five- or six-week cruise, they spend anything from $5,000 or $6,000, right up to $18,000 on really good quality produce from our store.”

For more details from the report, visit AIMEX at www.aimex.asn.au or www.superyacht-australia.com.

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