Published: Thursday, 15 June 2017

Joshua Lee, CEO of Lee Marine, gave a speech at the seventh edition of Australian Superyacht, Marine Export & Commercial Marine Industry Conference (ASMEX) held in Sanctuary Cove from May 22-24, prior to the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show from May 25-28.  

Joshua Lee Shares Insights At Australias Asmex 2

(Photos: Sheree Burke Photography and Lee Marine - Joshua Lee speaking at ASMEX)

Named as Personality of the Year at the Asia Boating Awards 2017, Joshua Lee was originally from Brisbane. He ventured to Asia as a young derivatives trader and soon became enamoured with Phuket as he sailed into her waters on his 37-foot yacht in 1997. In an effort to sell his boat, he launched Lee Marine and now in his 20th year of operation.

Joshua’s speech revolved around navigating the cultural and operating challenges of doing business in Thailand. “Thailand is unique to Asia as it was never colonised. Its legal system does not stem from a European one like Singapore, Malaysia or Hong Kong. It has also experienced once-in-a-lifetime changes in the monarchy and of course, martial rule.”

Joshua Lee Shares Insights At Australias Asmex

(Lee named as Personality of the Year at the Asia Boating Awards 2017)

He offered his years of experience to fellow Australians looking to branch out into the Thai market.  “The greatest advice I can give you is to smile and be kind. You want to be a ‘Jai dee’, kind heart, not a ‘Jai dum’, black heart.”

During the Q&A session, Lee reflected on the role he could play in government relations in Thailand to modernise the charter regulations for foreign yachts, a similar problem of those currently plaguing the Australian industry. He also expressed great angst at the level of rubbish and pollution found on Thai beaches.

Joshua Lee Shares Insights At Australias Asmex 1

(Lee Marine's office in Ao Po Grand Marina)

“It is shameful – the state of the beaches in Phuket. It was not like that 20 years ago. It is unfathomable that the Government will happily allow 40 boats carrying hundreds of passengers to the islands off Phuket who pay little respect to the environment. Yet they limit a foreign yacht chartering to the same island with only 12 guests onboard with the greatest respect for the natural beauty. It is after all why they spend hundreds of thousands to charter one of the world's most elite yachts; to see and admire a pristine environment.”

His speech encouraged Phuket as a catchment point for clients with the wherewithal to own boats and yachts. The last 10 superyachts he has sold have been to Europeans, Americans and Australians drawn to Phuket as a luxury holiday destination. The uptake by Asian clients has not been as impressive. “There may not be a culture of big boat ownership by Asians but there is a culture of big spending.”