on 8 Apr 2021
Changes to Thai VAT rules will create more charter opportunities in Southeast Asia, says Raphael Sauleau
Fraser Yachts CEO Raphael Sauleau says that it is “absolutely” more likely Med-based superyachts will make the journey to Thailand, thanks to a new rule on charter implemented earlier this year. Though it is too early to know which yachts will make the trip to Southeast Asia for the coming winter season, Sauleau said at least one new superyacht was considering the trip, on top of a number of yachts already thinking about going to Thailand.
“This will give international superyacht visits a push,” Sauleau said of the rule change. In February this year, Verventia, organiser of the Thailand Yacht Show, and the Thai Yachting Business Association announced that the Thai government would allow foreign-flagged superyachts to spend the winter season in Thai waters and charter without having to pay VAT on the value of the vessel, a rule which industry experts said badly limited the appeal for superyachts to visit Southeast Asia.
Alongside the rule change on VAT, superyachts can also stay up to two and a half years in Thai waters.
Sauleau said the big difficulty for his superyacht clients was that the trip from established areas in the Med, with plentiful facilities and infrastructure was “cumbersome”. Now that Thai laws are more amenable to superyacht visits and charters, Sauleau said he expects there will be more owners interested in combining the Maldives with Thailand, as an Indian Ocean-Andaman Sea cruising package.
The Maldives experienced a rise in superyacht visits over the past year. The world’s largest charter yacht, the 136-metre Flying Fox, spent much of 2020 in the Indian Ocean. Poralu Marine, one of the world’s biggest marina developers, indicated that the Maldives government is courting yacht owners and yacht visits with marina development.
Sauleau also pointed out that, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions and related damage to tourism industries, several governments have shown new interest in attracting superyacht tourism and that Asian countries were keen on developing it.
Fraser Yachts is one of the world’s biggest brokerage and charter houses, with offices in Thailand and Hong Kong.