“LAST MARCH, YACHT dealers thought they were staring down the barrel of bankruptcy. But by July, they were the ones buying champagne and contemplating their greatest year ever,” says Richard Lofthouse.
The Asia-Pacific regional coordinator at Catalano Shipping Services had witnessed firsthand how the expectations of dealers and brokers had swung from panic to delight in Hong Kong.
“No one could have foreseen that the pandemic was going to be a stimulus for people to buy boats. They’ve been buying yachts like hotcakes.”
Across Asia, yacht sales skyrocketed in the more mature markets, while local charters did roaring business. Indonesia is now one of the easiest parts of the region for yachts to enter – a statement that would have made seasoned mariners blanch before the pandemic.
As other countries have tightened entry requirements for passengers and crew to curb the spread of COVID-19, the unchanged Indonesian visa process has, by default, been made more amenable. There is no need for arrivals to quarantine as long as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test producing negative results was taken within seven days of disembarkation.
“Indonesia has been the best show in town over the last six months or so,” says Lofthouse, who is also managing director of Catalano Shipping Indonesia, which operates Benoa Marina Bali. “We have a full marina at the moment, so we are very lucky.”
Open For Exploration
Another pandemic winner has been Singapore, with the yacht sales and brokerage markets becoming rather active after a quiet few months, during which Singaporeans were forced to adjust to a circuit breaker and border closures.
“The lockdown instilled a different kind of mindset in most of our clients,” says Pricilla Toh, assistant marketing manager (Southeast Asia) of Simpson Marine. “Those in Singapore understood that international travel would not be possible in 2020. For families where quality time together ranks high, they’re taking full advantage of what the sea and local islands have to offer.”
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