BY Lawrence Chow on 30 Mar 2022

After a year of surging demand for yachts in Hong Kong, HKBIA Chairman Lawrence Chow predicts what lies ahead for the city's recreational boating scene

Around the Island Race, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

The strong demand for recreational boating in 2021 is set to persist throughout 2022, and it may be the year when the world transitions to living with Covid-19 – providing the ideal backdrop for boat shows and major water sports events to re-emerge.

With very few local Covid-19 cases and relaxed regulations in Hong Kong last year, water sports and boating activities have flourished, as people turned to the sea as a means of spending time with loved ones. Although it is a relatively small city, the recreational boating scene in Hong Kong has developed to become one of the most active boating markets in Asia, with over 10,000 registered boats.

This did not happen overnight. Hong Kong has a very strong maritime history due to its strategic location and geography. Starting as a fishing village along the South China coast, Hong Kong developed into a major trading port to facilitate the city’s growth to become a major financial hub in Asia. This development contributed to wealth creation in the city, enabling recreational boating to flourish, as people turned towards water sports for leisure to enjoy Hong Kong’s beautiful marine landscape. As demand for recreational boating continues to increase, so does the need for moorings. Hong Kong has seen a shortage of moorings for over a decade, which has limited the growth of the industry. However, we are beginning to see some progress; the Marine Department has officially announced the allocation of 200 new moorings in Sai Kung. Other recent developments that will help alleviate the dearth of moorings include the potential development at the Shek O Quarry and the new ferry service to the moorings in Hei Ling Chau. These improvements will provide ample room for the industry to grow.

With the projection of additional moorings soon and a strong demand for recreational boats, this is the perfect opportunity for the industry to host a boat show in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, there has not been a proper show for over three years due to social unrest and the pandemic. To take the lead, the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association (HKBIA) has been preparing to host the Hong Kong Boat Show at Lantau Yacht Club since the beginning of 2021. However, due to the unpredictability of the pandemic, the planned date for the show has been fluid.

We hope the next Hong Kong Boat Show will showcase the importance of the industry in the region and attract new boaters. We hope to host it at the Wan Chai Basin – right in the heart of the city

Hosting such a large event poses a lot of challenges and risks; major boat shows around the world – such as Boot Dusseldorf and the Thailand International Boat Show – have been cancelled due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant. The HKBIA council has been carefully considering all the risks associated with hosting a boat show in this era and will continue with this planning going forward.

We hope the next Hong Kong Boat Show will highlight the importance of the industry in the region and attract new boaters. We hope to host it at the Wan Chai Basin – right in the heart of the city. As a whole, demand for boating is set to rise throughout 2022, as people look to recreational boating to explore the beautiful coastline and islands of Hong Kong with their friends and family.

About the author

Lawrence Chow is the chairman of the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association. He also represents boat manufacturers in Hong Kong and Macau as project manager for China Pacific Marine.