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Opinion: Phuket defining boating culture

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Erwin Bamps is CEO of Gulf Craft, listed among the world’s top 10 superyacht builders as per the 2014 Global Order Book, a report issued annually by the Boat International Group.

Before his appointment to CEO in June 2014, Mr Bamps had been the chief operating officer of the company since 2009, during which the company grew from a few hundred employees to more than 2,000 worldwide.

Here, Mr Bamps reveals his vision of Phuket’s role in the development of boating throughout Southeast Asia.

PHUKET: With an abundance of islands surrounded by crystal clear waters, Phuket has established itself as a favorite destination among holiday makers from all over the world. Its close proximity to Singapore – already a developing superyacht destination – makes Phuket well placed to become the world’s next superyacht destination in Southeast Asia.

Phuket is popular among European, Australian and Asian tourists who flock in droves to enjoy the food, people and pace of life in Phuket, particularly enjoying the lush scenery from the water. We understand that there is no “one size fits all” holiday, and with the wide range of visitors to Phuket, this is particularly relevant for the boating industry.

Some visitors prefer to stay in a hotel and charter a boat for daytime sailing, while others prefer a longer cruise around the islands. Then, there are locals who like to use their boat as an extension of their personal and business life – enjoying a home away from home with their friends and family.

Daytime sailing is still the most common boating activity among visitors, but as the tourism industry continues to grow, this is likely to change. Expansion of marinas in Southeast Asia will create a string of destinations that will allow for longer stays onboard yachts.

And with Singapore only three days’ sail from Phuket, they are likely to continue to develop into popular superyacht destinations. We expect that more visitors will come here for cruising holidays, enjoying the journey on the water as much as the destination, making this an exciting time for the region’s boating industry.

Boating culture in Southeast Asia, particularly weekend and superyacht cruising, is still developing and we believe that Phuket is spearheading how the region thinks about yachting. Fifty years ago, yachting was positioned for high-flyers who regularly spent the summer in Cannes and Saint Tropez, but that isn’t necessarily how people in Southeast Asia want to participate in it.

Boating has something for everyone, whether you are an adventurous seafarer or simply enjoy the floating scenery. Yachting doesn’t have to be the same thing for everyone.

Phuket is trying to define what boating means in the region and Gulf Craft has the product range to allow them to do that.

Approximately 250 superyachts visit Southeast Asia each year, and we are optimistic that more local owners are going to enter the market as they begin to view it as floating real estate. As increasing infrastructure facilities are put in place – we expect to see a shift from functional boating to a luxurious cruising market – creating opportunities for superyacht and weekend boating to take off in the region.

Gulf Craft has a proven capacity to design and build premium quality vessels for all types of customers. With the largest range of vessels in the market, we build boats costing the same as a small car to superyachts big enough to carry a helicopter. Working closely with clients in Southeast Asia, we tailor our vessels to suit the market by making technical adaptations to suit the tropical climate and the different approach to yachting.

Phuket’s still under-utilized islands and surrounding waters offer huge potential for tourism growth, and we look forward to supporting the region as it defines and develops its yachting culture.

— Erwin Bamps

 

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