Published: Monday, 17 June 2013
Mike Fulton

According to the annual report of the China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association, the number of leisure boats and yachts in China is anticipated to increase to 100,000 by 2020. This compares with just 3,000 craft in 2012. 

The report sees China’s yacht industry, which comprises in excess of 3,000 companies, entering a new expansion phase over the next few years. As part of this, the value of yacht business is forecast to rise to around USD8.16 billion by 2020. Zheng Weihang, the association’s secretary, said: “The government’s support for marine tourism is also a positive signal for the industry.” 

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He outlined the need for increased yacht sector infrastructure including marinas. China’s strong economy is enabling more people to buy boats, thereby promoting growth in the yacht industry. He also pointed out that Chinese manufacturers are learning how to build yachts easier and faster. 

Lars Petersen, general manager of Jebsen Marine, which imports Fairline and Riva yachts, said: "I think that soon boating will become a new lifestyle for mainland residents, who prefer self-driving, just as happened in Hong Kong. China’s yacht industry is now in its early phase, but it will soon move to the next stage in terms of usage. The second stage means that customers will start to change the use of their boats from business to entertainment activities, which will create demand for smaller yachts to enlarge their portfolios." 

The association’s view supports this, seeing the increasing number of wealthy people and rising domestic consumption levels being the catalyst for increased yacht demand. The Fortune Character Institute, a luxury industry research and consulting company, said in its China Yacht Report that total revenue in the country's yacht market reached USD285 million in 2012, with the luxury yacht sector accounting for some USD127 million. 

The institute’s figures also show that the compound annual growth rate in China's yacht market was 732 percent between 2006 and 2011, while the growth rate of other luxury items fluctuated. 

"This soaring rise means that the consumption patterns of wealthy Chinese people have seen an upgrade and both the luxury vehicle and yacht sectors will become their targets," said Zhou Ting, a director of the institute. “But Chinese multi-millionaires, who number about 1.4 million, are still novices when it comes to their understanding of yachts.”