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Online 8 Dec 06
Super yachts ahoy! 7,000 on the high seas but they are giving Singapore the miss
Clement Mesenas Editor-At-Large firstname.lastname@example.org
There are 7,000 mega ocean-going yachts plying the playgrounds of the world, mainly in Europe, the United States and Australia--but the vast majority of them have yet to discover Singapore.
One man aims to change all that soon.
"Singapore can match the top attractions offered by islands of Capri and Sardinia in Italy, long established as the playgrounds of the rich and famous with their super- luxury yachts," said Mr Arthur Tay, chairman of the One 15 Marina Club project taking shape on Sentosa.
The owners of these sleek vessels, 30 metres and longer which can cost between US$30 million ($46 million) and US$50 million, seek out the pleasure spots of the world for leisure as well as to entertain.
Worldwide, the number of super-rich who own luxury yachts is growing by 25 each year. In Asia, there are 40 such yachts.
"Yachts are fast becoming the region's new status symbol, driven largely by business tycoons eager to entertain on board," said Mr Tay. The amenities on board these yachts can rival the best that any five-star hotel can offer. With a crew and serving staff of up to 12, they can provide an exclusivity that is affordable by, well, only the very well-heeled. Some even come with a helicopter for owners who might need to avoid the inconvenience of a congested city road.
Mr Tay's vision for Sentosa as a top-class leisure attraction is aided by several factors, among them the upcoming multi-billion-dollar integrated resort and the upmarket Sentosa Cove residential project on the island, as well as the proposed development of the nearby Southern Islands.
Now that reclamation works on the Southern Islands are almost complete, the Singapore Tourism Board is setting its sights on developing the cluster by 2015, the year it has to hit the target of 17 million annual visitors and $30 billion in tourism receipts.
"We are confident we can work with other players in the industry to develop the Southern Islands into a playground for the rich," said Mr Tay, 50, who inherited a trading company from his father and turned it into a major lifestyle and leisure outfit, which is building the $80-million marina project. The marina with space for over 200 berths, including 10 for mega-yachts, will be completed in March next year.
"Often, high-rollers prefer to live on their yachts while visiting a casino, to avoid the glare of publicity were they to stay in a hotel in town," said Mr Tay.
But their families would want to appreciate the offerings of the city: Great restaurants, big-name shows, discos and, above all, safety and efficiency--two of Singapore's major selling points.
Boat-owning, which went into a decline in Singapore during the Asian financial crisis in the late '90s, is on the upswing again and Boat Asia--a regional showcase for the leisure marine craft industry which will be held at the marina--should propel this interest, said Mr Tay. More importantly, it will bring together people in the trade to Singapore.
"In this business, the important people to know are not only the owners, but also the yacht captains. These are young sophisticated men who are skilled and knowledgeable. They have to be, as they manage very expensive craft, over $100 million apiece, and they also influence the decision of their owners on where to sail," said Mr Tay.
And once they "discover" Singapore, its attractions and the safety it affords for expensive yachts, they will make it a regular must-visit port of call.
Related articles on Southern Islands Development Plans including the Sentosa IR
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