With year-end festivities approaching, people always expect cool weather to accompany the chill-out holiday vibes. The past weekend, however, taught me that December doesn’t mean it’s cold everywhere. A lively mid-December weekend spent in Phuket was soaked in sun and, of course, the second edition of Thailand Yacht Show (TYS). Co-organized with the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, TYS offered a rare chance to try out a range of world-class yachts, boats and on-water toys at Ao Po Grand Marina, which offers deep-water access for super yachts up to 80 m. and generous 24-hour access.
The sun was still hiding behinds curtains of cloud on Saturday morning before the official opening ceremony began, but the hearty gusts of wind indicated that all would turn out well. The notable organizers of the event predicted the event would be a huge success and “… generate economic benefits for related local businesses in a range of sectors, from shipbuilding to yacht maintenance service providers, restaurants, and the hotel and hospitality sector” according to Mrs. Korbkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports. As Thailand is forecasted to become the marine hub of ASEAN and also the preferred winter destination for international super yachts, there exists a need to improve marine regulations and benefits to encourage yacht owners, and to attract investment, to Thailand. ‘Make it easy,’ said Andy Treadwell, TYS Managing Director, as he pointed out that ease and clear understanding will attract more yachts, high-end tourists and, of course, investment.
The second edition of TYS was clearly bigger than the first one held in February. The show was also adjusted to start in the evening of the first night, a prime time to relax with a drink and the sea breezes, to make friends and network, and to get a first glimpse of the grand yachts and boats. Wonderful way to kick-off! The line-up of super yachts was marvellous, of course. The 90m Laurel L is gigantic and easily picked out from afar, while the Northern Sun is utterly elegant with her classic blue-white colour and, as a gimmick, a cheeky big water slider. They say that people look at yachts like cars and that everyone has their preferences, whether it be the top speed, or type and colour of décor. I confess I’m not a big fan of cars, let alone yachts, but after a while I realized – maybe due to the taste of the salty sea, or was it the taste of wine? – that one cannot cross an ocean by merely standing and staring at it, and hopped on the Ocean Emerald for my first sail to Phang Nga Bay.
It became apparent during the TYS that Phuket and South East Asia, with flawless coastlines, are perfect locales for the yachting community. Early yacht owners in this area had, unfortunately, to cope with a number of issues such as sky-high expenses, regulation obstacles and lack of skilled boating experts. Now however, with the support from Tourism Authority of Thailand and various brokers and experts, I think we will see Thailand developing as the marine hub of ASEAN.
‘Will you ever organize a TYS in Bangkok?’ I asked Andy. ‘Good question,’ he replied with a broad smile. ‘Next year’s Thailand Yacht Show will be held at the same place and time, but who knows? – the pre-event road show could pop up anywhere, including Bangkok.’ The second edition of TYS was a rare opportunity to learn about exciting yacht and boat models, interact with the yachting community, and try out the latest, fun water toys. I hopped onto many yachts and by the end of the show I had found my favourite one – now I need to start saving for it!
The Thailand Yacht Show consists of the four-day yacht show for local and international charter yachts, plus other marine activities which are open to the public for a full week. Please visit: http://www.thailandyachtshow.com