Multi-millionaires who tend to hire luxury superyachts for their annual vacations are allegedly being turned away from Queensland because the yachts are unable to access certain beach and reef sites.
by Bob Wonders
Among those who have instructed their captains to ‘give Queensland a miss’ are the Crown Prince of Dubai and the Italian fashion icon Giorgio Armani.
Armani reportedly paid in excess of $100,000 a week to charter the 41.0-metre ‘Seafaris.’
At least one superyacht owner has said he will move his vessel to Europe to avoid what he termed ‘cruise ship regulations.’
Through the Whitsunday and Great Barrier Reef regions, vessels in excess of 35.0-metres have limited mooring facilities. The basis for this seems to be to control the activity of cruisie liners which often had 500 + passangers.
However, in Europe and many other parts of the world, moorings are regulated by a vessel’s weight, allowing far greater access for craft under 500 tonnes.
‘Seafaris’ captain, Duncan Smith, told local media that Mr Armani wanted to visit parts of the Whitsunday Passage, including Tongue Bay he had seen on the Queensland Tourism website.
When a landing permit could not be obtained, Mr Armani cancelled his planned eight-day break after only three days.
'He told us he was headed for the Maldives where he could go ashore and walk along the beach,' Captain Smith explained.
'I think it’s embarrassing, these are the sort of people we need to attract.'
‘Seafaris’ owner, Jeff McCloy, said he was seriously considering moving the boat to European waters.
He claimed millions of dollars were at risk due to regulations lacking common sense.
'Neither ‘Seafaris’, which weighs in at less than 300 tonnes, nor its passengers pose any threat to the reef or the Whitsunday region,' Mr McCloy declared.
'We need to realise that the superyacht business is on a high and thanks to the easier access in Europe and the United States, operators there are chasing hard for the business,' he added.
A government spokesman said proposals to improve access to the area for superyachts were being considered, but added that larger vessels would not be given any preferred treatment.
Specifications on the Seafaris, which has guest accomodation for ten and crew accomodation for ten. http://www.seafarisaustralia.com/pdf/specs.pdf
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9:38 PM Sun 30 Dec 2007 GMT
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