This is the speech of Andy Treadwell, Managing Director of organisers of the Thailand Yacht Show’s at the official Opening Ceremony:
"Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister
Excellencies, Ministers in the Thai Cabinet,
Excellencies, Ambassadors of Overseas Nations,
Honorable Governor of Phuket,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you all so much for coming today, and Welcome to the very first edition of the new Thailand Yacht Show here in this wonderful setting of Ao Po Grand Marina.
My first duty today is in fact to thank Khun Kasem and all his exceptional team for the huge effort they have made in improving and readying the marina and allowing us to stage the show here.
When we first started this project a couple of years ago the business plan that we shared with your Government was to turn Thailand into the principal hub for the yachting industry in South East Asia, with Phuket as its epicenter.
There is everything here that a yacht owner wants – beautiful cruising grounds, fantastic scenery, extraordinary heritage sites, first class hotels and resorts - and the best service in the world, with the biggest smile. This is all a huge attraction for superyacht owners from the West, who are getting a little tired of the Mediterranean in the European summer and the Caribbean in the winter.
So with the vision of your Prime Minister in calling for the creation of this show and announcing a major initiative to develop the superyacht sector, and with the Ministers of Transport and of Tourism and Sport - as well as all the other Ministers and Government representatives I have had the pleasure of meeting over the past few months - all clearly aligned with this thinking and enthusiastically supporting the initiative, we can all hope that Thailand will now rightly assume its place as the world’s third destination for Superyachts after the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.
And as I said at the Press Conference in January, our mission has now changed slightly - we want Thailand to become the world’s second destination, not the third – we are going to get as many yacht owners as possible to come to Asia for the winter season instead of going to the Caribbean.
So we are launching a professional destination marketing campaign to bring them here, together with their multitudes of charter clients from the West, as well as new prospective charterers and buyers from all around Asia. From here, these yacht owners will want to venture into the rest of South East Asia, and on down to Australia and New Zealand, and that is why we are joining forces with our industry colleagues from the rest of the Asia Pacific region to work together to make this vision a reality.
Most of our clients who own superyachts in the Mediterranean and in the Americas – and there are around 5,000 of them – already know about Phuket and the magnificent sailing waters in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand. They all want to come here and see for themselves, but there has been one thing stopping them to date – the inability to charter. They need to be able to charter in order to offset the enormous costs of running these big boats and bringing them to Thailand.
And again as I’ve said before, this is the kind of visitor that Thailand wants – yachting tourists spend far more money on holiday than any other sector. Visiting superyachts which bring in high-spending luxury-lifestyle focused charter clients from all over the world, generate a huge and highly positive impact into the local economy of the country in which they are based for the season. They create jobs and encourage infrastructure development and inward investment. We are confident that we could easily have 200 yachts or more coming here in two or three year’s time – that could be hundreds of millions of dollars coming into the Thai economy.
The superyacht charter licence that we announced back in September, that is so vital to the success of this whole project, has just one remaining issues to be solved. That issue is the waiving of VAT on the required import of yachts whose owners want to charter. We heard yesterday at the first edition of the Thailand Yacht Conference that this can be done by Royal Decree.
It needs to be done, and I genuinely hope and believe it can be done, by the beginning of the Mediterranean season in May or June, which is when the yacht owners and captains plan their winter seasons. If that happens, and we are able to carry on our destination marketing campaign for Thailand – of which this yacht show is the core element - throughout this year, we could already have a big influx of superyachts to Thailand for next season.
We have only had a couple of months to market and organize this first edition, but I think you’ll be quite impressed with the display of superyachts and boats we have down on the marina. So as you walk around, imagine how big this could be with a full year of promotion. The fantastic turnout at such short notice by some of the biggest names in the yachting industry is a telling indictment of how seriously they all take this opportunity.
So I ask you, Deputy Prime Minister and all the members of the Thai Government, let’s take this opportunity for Thailand. Let’s continue this exciting and highly motivating project, which I and all my team have thoroughly enjoyed working on with you, despite the pressure over the last few months. Just give us your support for 3 years, allow yachts to come here and charter, and allow us to prove all that we have promised you."