Published: Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Government officials and marine industry body members in Phuket, Thailand announce the approval of new charter license laws allowing foreign-flagged superyachts to apply for a license to operate commercially in Thai waters.

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(Photo: Bua Kanasuta/Ao Po Grand Marina)

The historic move is expected to provide a significant stimulus to yachting activity in Southeast Asia and to the entire boating industry.

“This is an important decision for the government and the broader superyacht industry,” says Seal Superyachts Managing Director Adam Frost. “Our expectations are high and the hope is that the country will now see a greater increase in superyacht arrivals.  Thailand is clearly extending a warm welcome to superyacht owners, with only a bare minimum of restrictions to be placed upon them if they wish to operate their charters here."

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) is working to push forward the implementation of regulations in time for the coming Southeast Asia cruising season, taking place from November through April.

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Issued by MOT, the new licenses must be applied for through an appointed Superyacht Agent in Thailand before arrival.  Yachts must be larger than 30 metres in length, have full hull and third party liability insurance and carry a maximum capacity of no more than 12 guests.

As an already popular destination for luxury travel, Phuket is perfectly positioned geographically and able to offer strong infrastructural support to an inbound fleet of superyachts. There will soon be well over 100 permanent superyacht berths following considerable investment at the Yacht Haven and Ao Po marinas.

Thai Govt Officials Accommodate Foreign Vessels

(Photo: Phuket Yacht Show website) 

"We believe this will be the beginning of a major shift of charter business to Asia in the winter seasons,” says Singapore Yacht Show owner Andy Treadwell. “It's a fantastic result for the yachting industry here, and we congratulate the Thai Government for the highly proactive stance they have taken with this initiative and the speed with which they have approved it."

The Phuket Yacht Show, for which dates are to be determined, is focusing on attracting potential charter clients to experience the luxury of a superyacht first-hand, as well as introducing charter brokers from around the world. Once charter activity increases in Southeast Asia industry experts forecast that regional ownership will follow suit with new yachts being brought to Phuket as a homeport.

“The economic impact for Thailand will be tremendous over the coming years, and our working relationship with all the various members of the local authorities has been really excellent; always highly positive," says author of the new charter license proposal Jean-Marc Poullet. 

Applications can be made from July onwards, with the issue of permits commencing in September or October.  Processing is expected to take around 30 days and the license will be valid for 12 months from the first arrival date of the vessel.