by Dom Wiseman

In the lead up to the Marine Tourism Summit, to be held in Hainan, China, from 25 to 27 March 2019, a roundtable discussion was held between local industry experts and members in Hainan, China, to discuss how the boating sector in China can be built and developed.

The tropical island of Hainan, in the far South East of China, is in a process of transformation. Marine tourism is expected to boom here, as China develops eights different towns along the coastline of the island, set to be glitzy, first-class yachting destinations.

Looking for regional experts to participate in the roundtable, Australia attended the roundtable event. MaryAnne Edwards, former AIMEX CEO, Cameron Bray, director of Bray Management, and Jamie MacPhail, Pantaenius Australia CEO, represented the Australian marine industry, to discuss the establishment of a recreational boating industry in the region.

“For many years we have heard the yachting industry talk about China and the expectation that great things would happen,” said Edwards. “But outcomes for many have been slow and those who are starting to get some traction have invested heavily in this market over a long time. Having said that, however, we all know China continues to present a huge opportunity for our industry sector.

“Being involved in the forum was interesting especially with the number of industry stakeholders in attendance.

“I will be reporting back to the AIMEX board and we will watch the future progress in Hainan with interest. If the vision is realised this will definitely be a place Australian businesses should look closer at.”

The attendees aided relevant government departments and marine authorities in China, to better understand how they should begin to build a Marine Tourism Road Map for Hainan and the region.

“The opportunity to be involved, offer some thoughts regarding the part insurance plays in the global marine industry and the ability to network with some experienced industry stakeholders was valuable,” said Jamie MacPhail. “Whilst Pantaenius cannot currently operate within the China market it is clear the future opportunity is significant.”

Arthur Tay, chairman and CEO of SUTL Enterprise and ONE°15 Marinas, gave the opening address at the event.

“It will, in my opinion, be the greatest yachting and marine tourism opportunity in the world, with one of the largest consumer bases on the planet and an ever growing ultra-wealthy and middle-class population,” he said. “There have been marine events, boat shows and yachting festivals over the past decade that have delivered a taste of the luxury lifestyle that marine tourism delivers, but the Chinese customer likes to make sure they are not making mistakes and want to really understand the concept.

Industry representatives were asked to share their expertise at the forum on how to build a marine tourism sector.

Over the coming years and based on announcements from the government at the recent BOAO Forum for Asia in Hainan, the desire to create a yachting and marine tourism culture will grow and become more acceptable. It is anticipated that by 2025, several thousand yachts will be owned, used and chartered along the diverse coastline of China by the vast number of ultra-wealthy consumers.”

The opportunities across the region for the industry are plentiful and promising.