Thundery skies did nothing to subdue the festivities at the Opening Ceremony of the Thailand Yacht Show 2016.After being greeted by the Show’s managing director Andy Treadwell, accompanied by Minister of Tourism & Sport Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul and Deputy Minister of Transport Omsin Chivapruk, the Guest of Honour, Deputy Prime Minister General Thanasak Patimaprakorn and a whole host of senior government representatives and officials were escorted through the Show’s Exhibition Pavilion and then on down to D’ Deck overlooking Ao Po Grand Marina.
Drummers and dancers fired the ceremony off to a simultaneously exuberant and elegant start, and then it was on to the formal proceedings. “In presenting the second Thailand Yacht Show,” said Andy Treadwell, “our aim is to realise the vision of the Thailand government to position Thailand as the natural destination capital for yachting in Asia, as well as the preferred winter destination for the global superyacht fleet.” He went on to explain that attracting charter superyachts and stimulating boating and yachting in Thailand would trigger a huge economic impact for the country’s economy, as well as creating jobs, global high-end PR, and stimulating inward investment.
Responding on behalf of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, TAT Governor Mr Yuthasak Supasorn added, “This second edition of the TYS is expected to further drive global awareness of Thailand as Asia’s principal yachting destination, and make sure that Thailand is ready to become the yachting hub of ASEAN.”
The Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, took up the theme with a highly emotional and inspiring speech that clearly demonstrated to the probably 250-strong audience just how much the success of this project means to the whole of the Thai government. She pointed out that encouraging growth in the marine tourism industry will “generate economic benefits for related local businesses in a range of sectors, from shipbuilding to yacht maintenance service providers, restaurants, and the hotel and hospitality sector.” K Kobkarn also pointed out that there exists a need to “improve marine regulations, and provide proper beneficial promotions to attract investment in the leisure marine industry, and to encourage yacht owners to visit Thailand more often.”
Minister of Tourism and Sports, Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul
Mr Ormsin Chivapruck, Deputy Minister of Transport, noted that his Ministry is “currently evaluating superyacht charter regulations, the implementation of yacht-friendly immigration procedures, and reviewing customs policies.”
Last, but certainly not least, Deputy Prime Minister General Tanasak Patimaprakorn tied all of the speeches together by “requesting and encouraging integration and collaboration among the agencies of the Government of Thailand, and through the marine leisure private sector – and even the media – to boost marine tourism in Thailand.”
The official VIP party at the TYS Opening Ceremony
While the cameras flashed, the drones buzzed overhead, and the horns blared in the marina, the Official Guests joined together for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a great many photographs, and then went down to the docks for a tour of the Show before boarding the crown jewel of the TYS, the 90m Lauren L, for a celebratory dinner.
No matter how threatening the sky looked, the rain stayed away. In the cool of the evening (by now it was past 6.00pm) visitors quickly turned the marina into a sort of passeggiata afloat. One of the unique features of the Thailand Yacht Show is the double-width pontoons which allow for a great deal more dockside activity than at most boat shows. No sidling past the oncoming foot traffic and trying not to fall in the water here! Between the rows of yachts moored stern-to, pop-up bars and hospitality suites provided plenty of opportunity for visitors to stop and talk to other visitors – and of course to the exhibitors.
This edition of the Thailand Yacht Show has many more boats and yachts on display than the inaugural event in February of this year. “The word has got around,” says Andy Treadwell. “What we have here is a fairly spectacular line-up of everything that makes up the full spectrum of leisure water activities, from superyachts to speedboats, stand-up paddle boards and Flyboards to sail boats and more. It was always the remit of TYS to present to our visitors a full portfolio of marine leisure craft, and we are delighted with the increasing support that we are getting from the local industry.”
The first TYS in February was put together in a little over three months from start to opening; for this show the organisers have had a bit longer, and although there have been some changes of plan to deal with along the way, the difference is huge. Treadwell believes his team’s incessant hard work means they are well on the way to achieving their goal, but it is the enthusiastic participation of the supporting exhibitors that is all-important.
“It is not possible to make this all happen without the dealers, brokers, charter brokers, manufacturers and retailers – in short, exhibitors make a show,” he says. “But the continued support of the Government of Thailand is a critical part of the programme. Without the sponsorship of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, we simply couldn’t do it.” The Ministries of Tourism and Sports, and Transport, along with the Marine Department, are working together with TYS and the TMBA to streamline and rationalise regulations and legislation that will ultimately benefit the entire marine leisure industry sector of Thailand. It’s a win-win formula for everyone concerned, and a successful TYS is the most immediate and visible proof of the concept.