By Jeni Bone

A major change to the Australian Coastal Trading Act is making its way through Parliament and according to a a report by IBI, Superyacht Business’s sister tittle, players in the leisure marine industry hope cutting red tape to chartering will make its waters and its marine services even more alluring to foreign-flagged superyachts.

Predicting a windfall for the sector and the broader economy, industry proponents have hopes of visitation doubling in the next three to five years.

The Australian coalition government has committed to reviving coastal shipping, hoping to move draft legislation through Parliament by October with implementation shortly thereafter.

As well as benefitting the nation in the areas of competition, increased maritime jobs, less road and rail congestion, and cheaper freight costs for Australian manufacturers and primary producers, simplifying the legislation will mean easier access, more attractive conditions for dry-docking and maintenance, and less red tape for foreign-flagged superyachts wishing to charter while Down Under.

The prospective changes to the Australian Coastal Trading Act are welcomed by the Australian superyacht sector and broader marine industry, anticipating a boon in yachts seeking to explore Australia’s alluring coastline and cruising grounds, and access its world-class repair, refit and maintenance services.

MaryAnne Edwards, chief executive of Superyacht Australia, says the industry is crossing its collective fingers and awaiting the outcome sometime in October. “We are all hopeful this goes through,” she said, referring to the draft legislation. “Currently, vessels can charter in Australia under the temporary licence system issued under the Coastal Trading Act 2012 by the Department of Infrastructure, with the assistance of a local agent. Vessels operating under this licence can also undertake refits and repairs and are not required to fully import the vessel.

“But the amended legislation provides a simpler process, a more cost-effective pathway for foreign-flagged vessels to charter here. We have close contact with Department of Infrastructure and we are all hoping for positive news.”

Superyacht Australia has worked diligently over the past 12 months lobbying government to allow easier access to foreign-flagged vessels to charter in Australia. “We developed a working group of industry stakeholders to address this key issue. We met with Australian government officials on several occasions to ensure the current temporary licensing system will work for foreign-flagged superyachts wishing to charter here and more importantly, will ensure a warm Australian welcome to these visiting superyachts.”

First impressions are lasting impressions, and referral from owners and captains is crucial to attracting superyachts to what is considered a remote region compared to the Med or Caribbean. Cutting red tape and the complexities of customs and impost means less hindrance ahead of superyacht guests experiencing the idyllic tropical islands and harbours of the marketing material.

“There is more and more interest in cruising in Australia and the Pacific,” affirms Edwards. “Already we get steady enquiry, but in the past chartering here has been difficult. The vessel had to be fully imported and GST deferred. We think that the low hanging fruit will be vessels already in the Asia-Pacific region, many of whom want to come here for refit work and if they can charter as well, this will only make us more attractive as a destination.”

Australia’s brand of quality workmanship, ‘can do’ attitude and high-tech facilities is world-renowned, thanks to consistent promotion at the world’s leading yacht shows and trade expos such as Monaco and METS.

“We have a reputation for our refit work, we have some yacht building happening in Western Australia [Echo Yachts] and we foresee this growing. We are extremely cost-competitive and the quality of our work and skills is highly sought-after. We expect the number of foreign-flagged vessels coming to Australia to double in the next three to five years, from 40 per annum currently.”

It’s not only maintenance and refit providers who will potentially benefit, explains Edwards. “Obviously the more vessels that charter here the more business that will go to the whole supply chain: marinas, suppliers, tourism. The economic benefit is significant, not to mention the fact that once the charter market opens up here, charter brokers globally will obviously include Australia in more itineraries and promote us more.”

Adding weight to the allure of the region, Superyacht Australia has teamed up with various partners in the region in a new organisation known as South Pacific Superyachting. Involving stakeholders from Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, the new group will promote the South Pacific as a key cruising destination to attract more boats to cruise and charter there.