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On Deck: When only a fraction is enough



PHUKET: What happened to fractional boat ownership? In the not-too-distant past, shared ownership of boats seemed to be the ‘thing’. A great way to introduce non-boaters into boating, and then retaining leisure boaters, with a cost-effective form of ownership. A panacea.

In Phuket the concept caught on, but was short-lived.

Early pioneers included Simon James, Royal Phuket Marina and Twinpalms, with the island’s fractional real estate pioneers, Absolute World Group, and Go Boating following suit. However, the concept never really took off the way people expected it to.

Fractional real estate was introduced into the US in the early 1990s and remains a popular form of ownership of second and holiday homes to this day. On the back of this success, the US was quick to expand the fractional concept to many other products, including boats, and today fractional boat ownership is a worldwide concept.

One of the ‘big’ fractional boat offerings announced a few years back was by the London-based YachtPlus superyacht company, who at the time commissioned 10 new 135-foot Lord Norman Foster-designed superyachts. One of those originally commissioned superyachts, Ocean Emerald, today lies in Thailand.

The concept of fractional boat ownership is a sound one. Purchase, operation and maintenance costs are shared between the owners, thus significantly reducing the price of boat ownership for each individual.

For many day-trip boat owners – those who like to use their boat infrequently – a shared ownership option makes a lot of sense. And for those who wish to trade up to a craft beyond their financial reach, a fraction share in said boat at a fraction of the cost is viable and attractive.

Alternative and more creative ownership models are likely to see a comeback and pick up more traction in Thailand.

Fractional boat ownership is an ideal way to introduce first-time boaters – Thai, expatriate, second-home owners – into boating. Barriers to entry such as price, ongoing costs and knowledge, are reduced considerably and with Dry Stacks available in the key sailing destinations of Phuket and Pattaya, the boating proposition becomes more convenient and hassle-free.

Beyond the lifestyle, there is the economic proposition: the time when the boat is not being used by its owners, it is offered for charter with the revenues shared and put toward offsetting the ongoing costs.

With professional and cost-effective fractional ownership offerings on mid-sized boats of 10 to 15 meters in Phuket, the potential growth in this segment is high.

Duncan Worthington is a long time Phuket resident and through Infinity Communications ( consults for leading consumer brands, hospitality and marine clients in Thailand. In his ‘spare time’ he runs the marine portal #OnDeckPhuket

— Duncan Worthington


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