What is the Prospect for the Indian Yachting Industry? By Simon J ArrolAn interview with Simon J A

Published: 17th June 2010
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Definitions: A "yacht" is a vessel used primarily for pleasure. Hence "motor yacht" and "sailing yacht".

A "marina" is a harbour that is purpose-designed for yachts.

The rising purchasing power of the rich Indians has forced the international market to look for opportunities in the Yachting market in India. With an economic growth of over 7%, when the rest of the world is reeling, and the growing appetite for luxury goods - India is suddenly in everyones radar. "Ah yes," say the commentators, "but everyone in India is poor". This is not true of course, but again the power of numbers makes the point nicely. Even if only 0.01% of the population (i.e. 1 in 10,000) are presently ready to consider buying a boat then that already represents 120,000 potential customers. This is almost exactly the same as the total number of pleasure boats longer than 7.5 meters in the whole of the UK . The fact is that anyone who can afford to buy an imported motorcar can certainly consider buying a boat. And the boat will almost certainly give him/her more pleasure.

But it is lack of infrastructure that is presently constraining the growth of the yachting industry. The motorcar industry is a valid comparison. The growth of the automobile ancillary industry was critical in the development of the industry. Yet with yachting in India the present situation is the antithesis of this. Interestingly, in India, Yachts are being bought but their are very few facilities for servicing them or for that matter sufficient berthing facilities.

Although a motor-car manufacturer can find premises for workshops and stores relatively easily, the yachting sector struggles to find land suitable for marinas and repair yards. Why?  Because most of the coastline, especially in urban areas, is controlled by the State or by the Port Trusts, and their statutory procedures make the identification, allocation, and permitting of land and water for marinas and repair yards an extremely slow process. The permitting procedures, rather than funding, is where the bottleneck lies. Left to the private sector there would have been a proliferation of marina and yacht ancillaries industry but the government bodies have made this almost impossible.

This then begs the question, is the yachting industry worth supporting? Well here are some comparable from the UK with its population of a mere 61 million (i.e. only 5% of the size of India's) and rather inclement weather. The statistics come from the British Marine Federation's surveys for 2007/2008.

• Industry revenue for the leisure and small commercial marine industry in the UK in 2007/2008 was 23,250 crore rupees.

• In addition to the industry revenue, the economic benefits of tourism-related spend in the UK was estimated to be a further 16,500 crore rupees.

• Total employees in the UK estimated to be 35,200 full-time equivalent.

• The wider economic benefits of the 238 coastal marinas in the UK and the Channel Islands resulted in an estimated 5,250 crore rupees value of added contributions.

So the potential for India's yachting industry is huge, but it is dependent on infrastructure. And infrastructure means marinas and repair yards.

Simon Arrol of Marina-India has seventeen years experience in the dredging and harbour works industry. This was followed by twenty two years in the marina development and marina consultancy as well as sixteen years as managing director of Camper & Nicholsons Marinas Limited and 2 years as a director of Island Global Yachting Dubai LLC. His marina qualifications stem from work in 27 international locations, not just as a consultant but also as a marina owner, investor, engineer and manager

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