by Jeni Bone
Since coming under the auspices of AIMEX and rebranding as Superyacht Australia, the organisation has redefined its focus, identified key industry issues and implemented several initiatives that have garnered global attention for Australian manufacturers and Australia as a superyacht destination.
The Victorian Contingent with Sally Capp of Victorian Government
According to global stats, the superyacht sector’s estimated worth is 24 billion Euro, referring to a fleet of more than 6,000 yachts worldwide. Currently, Australia has just 1% of this market share which indicates the huge potential for growth and opportunity around the country.
Despite the challenges of a strong Australian dollar and the various barriers to manufacturing, the superyacht industry is characterised by its 'resilience, tenacity and determination keep optimism alive within the industry', according to Barry Jenkins, Chairman at Superyacht Australia.
'There has been much work done in uniting the industry and bringing relevant government departments up-to-date with the impediments frustrating growth,' he continues. 'The ASMEX conference in May 2013 will once again highlight these difficulties and give direction to the industry as to what still needs to be pursued to encourage increased visitations, which will create more refit work and tourism dollars.
'Optimism prevails, however this does not mean that advocacy pressure can be allowed to subside nor the momentum decelerate.'
Superyacht Australia is also enjoying healthy interest and increasing membership amongst industry, notably since its coalition with AIMEX. Unanimously, members attest to the benefits being the synergies, shared resources and more clout at the world’s boat shows and industry forums.
Murray Owen from Marine Engineering Consultants, who is a Committee Member of Superyacht Australia, explains: 'We were finding it very hard to survive financially with membership dwindling mainly due to GFC and lack of visitation from superyachts.
'Initially AIMEX came onboard to offer professional administration services, in doing so they demonstrated such a professional approach and management that we were lacking as we tried to adapt to the conditions and run our own businesses. We could see positive changes immediately and after a 12 month period decided to amalgamate with AIMEX as the head body and Superyacht Australia as a branch of AIMEX.
'Both groups share the same goal and that is to see Australian companies succeed either for export or domestically. This means lobbying government and councils. AIMEX already has the contacts so the mix was perfect. The ASMEX conference is a perfect example of this mix in action under the management of AIMEX.'
Jim Livermore, General Manager, Eastern Operations for MTU Detroit Diesel Australia, says the company has been a member since the organisation’s inception as SYBA, 'some 10 years ago' and that membership is imperative both here and in international circles.
'For us, it’s a voice at the table to provide input to decisions and the direction of the industry, as well as gaining insight in to government thinking on relevant marine issues.'
Livermore states that after a few years 'losing direction', Superyacht Australia in its structure today 'certainly has a clearly defined path and objectives in the areas it needs to be focusing and addressing'.
'These have changed over the years, with the rise of overseas competition, different challenges to the industry and changes of government. Superyacht Australia, as a peak body, has become more attuned to developing business in Australia that is trying to encourage overseas boats for chartering and visitation.
'Superyacht Australia makes life simpler and easier for members in the business, as well as being a resource for people in Australia who want to own a superyacht to run them as a business or as a pleasure craft.'
Key to Superyacht Australia’s implementing its agenda are its initiatives to generate interest in Australia as a destination.
AIMEX flying the flag for Australian exporters.
'It’s well known that Australia tops the list of places superyacht owners would love to explore. It’s just a matter of showing them what’s on offer, as well as making sure their visit is smooth and hassle-free,' says MaryAnne Edwards, CEO of Superyacht Australia/AIMEX.
'To that end, Superyacht Australia undertakes considerable lobbying with the federal government to relax regulations on chartering in order to maximise the opportunities for the region and increase visitation.'
In time for the 2012 Monaco Yacht Show, Superyacht Australia published a 'Pocket Map', illustrating Australia’s capabilities in terms of capacity and facilities for superyachts and also the idyllic cruising grounds and world-class events that would draw owners to Australia.
One side of the Pocket Map folds out to an A3 map of Australia, featuring images of iconic Australian destinations, unique experiences and Australia’s marinas and regional contacts. The other side of the A3 is a categorized business directory featuring key superyacht businesses who can provide the facilities and services visiting superyachts require.
The maps were distributed to Captains, owners and brokers at the Monaco Yacht Show, Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show and METS to positive response.
Superyacht Australia Pocket Map pg2
'The Superyacht Australia Pocket Map has been exceptionally well received and is an excellent tool which demonstrates Australia’s capabilities for superyachts in a pocket sized format,' explains Victoria Smith, Operations Manager.
'Superyacht Australia has received several commendations on this collateral and has received enquiries from businesses wanting to know how they can be included within it. From a consumer point of view it has been received well with many finding the map useful and a good demonstration of Australia’s facilities.'
MYS as the most significant global event for superyachts is 'vital to the Australian businesses intent on working in the European superyacht sector', continues Smith.
'This year, exhibitors were satisfied with the business done in Monaco. It’s a show which requires groundwork to have a successful event and proactive initiative to ensure the right contacts are made.'
A real coup for Australia was having Hanseatic Marine’s 'Smerelda' on the water at the show (which has since been sold).
'Chris Blackwell the Project Manager at Hanseatic Marine was elated having spent the show showcasing Smerelda to brokers and industry professionals who he said praised the quality of build, finish, engineering and outfitting and many were astounded at the speed range and fuel efficiency.'
Fort Lauderdale too is a major fixture on the calendar for AIMEX/Superyacht Australia, and despite wet, windy conditions as Cyclone Sandy built up over the region, by all reports, business was good and many exhibitors have re-booked for 2013. Australian exhibitors included VEEM Propellers, Muirs, Pyrotek Noise Control, PolyFlex Group, Release and Retrieve Boatlatch, Ocean Media, Sevenstar Yacht Transport, Australian Superyacht Crew Recruitment & Training and Superyacht Australia.
The annual METS trade event in Amsterdam is the 'must do' show, according to Smith. 'Each year exhibitors consistently say that METS is ‘the’ show to attend, as not only is this an excellent meeting place for the industry, this is where business to business is at its best.
Australian Pavilion at Monaco Yacht Show 2011 using Australia Unlimited2
'All exhibitors reported having made good contacts, some secured new distributors, many met with existing distributors and generated strong leads for new business. This show is always an excellent platform for new export ventures as it boasts unparalleled business opportunities.'
At METS, AIMEX in collaboration with the Victorian government hosted The Australian Outback Party, an invitation-only event. This function attracted 130 leaders in the global marine industry and introduced them to a genuine Australian food and wine experience, while facilitating an invaluable networking opportunity.
In mid-November, CEO MaryAnne Edwards attended the Global Superyacht Forum and was impressed with the objectives and program content. Many contacts where made including confirming John Lu, president and founder of Horizon to speak at the 2013 ASMEX conference along with other senior contacts from the superyacht sphere.
Feedback from all events this year indicates that Australia is viewed as the 'new' destination for superyachts.
'We are known for our beaches and experiences such as the Whitsundays and Kimberleys,' Edwards explains. 'And our reputation for quality workmanship in manufacturing is world-renowned and certainly assists in getting sales over the line with the dollar at its current heights.’
AIMEX networking function at METS
As she recounts: 'Australian workmanship has been recently commended by a Superyacht captain who said that the productivity of Australian manufacturers/refit and repair facilities far exceeds those of others and therefore results in less time required and a better rate.
'So despite Australia’s initial costs coming in higher on paper, we are actually competitive when it comes to completing a job on time and of the calibre expected.'
Next on the agenda for AIMEX/Superyacht Australia is the third annual ASMEX conference to be held at Sanctuary Cove 20-22 May 2013. Edwards anticipates strong attendance in response to a stellar lineup of speakers covering all facets of industry.
Speakers include Chairman of Horizon Yacht John Lu, highly awarded Australian superyacht designer Sam Sorgiovanni, NZ Marine executive director, Peter Busfield, and one of Australia’s leading economists to provide insight into industry and consumer trends. Several more high profile speakers will be confirmed in coming weeks.
'ASMEX is designed by industry for industry, as a forum for discussion, participation and business development that is unrivalled in the region. You won’t prosper if you sit back and wait for trends to impact on your business. You have to be ahead of the game and certainly, your competitors. ASMEX aims to assemble those who are leading or analysing industry and consumer trends so your business can benefit immediately.'
More at www.superyacht-australia.com