The premier superyacht builder, Gulf Craft, is calling for support from tourism boards and regulators to help promote the Middle East as a premier yachting and yacht charter destination. According to the 2014 World Ultra Wealth Report by Wealth-X and UBS, the Middle East is home to the world’s fastest growing Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) population and wealth.
Speaking at the recent MARE Forum Monaco Yacht Summit in Monaco, Chief Executive of Gulf Craft, Erwin Bamps, said the Middle East’s favorable economic environment presents great opportunity for the leisure marine industry and luxury yacht charter. “Not only is the region growing considerably in terms of collective wealth, but reports show this wealth is diversified, signifying a healthy economy and mitigating any risks associated with the rise and fall of oil prices,” Bamps said. “More than one-fifth of UHNW wealth in the UAE comes from various industrial entities, reflecting the confidence that both investors and private companies have in the economy.”
The challenge, however, lies in making visitors aware about the fabulous Middle East locations so that they are not only a prominent market for leisure yachting and superyacht charter, but also a globally recognized destination.
“Unfortunately, many waterfront destinations remain unknown among the general public, and with more marinas coming up along the Gulf coast, it is important that we educate and entice yacht owners to keep the craft they love in the region,” Bamps said. “This is where we need the support of all stakeholders in the industry, from tourism boards to regulators.”
The last 16 years saw the number of cruise visitors to the UAE increase notably – from 10,000 in 1998, to half a million in 2014. Moreover, tourism is proving to be a key economic pillar in Dubai, posting 14 per cent annual growth, compared with the global average of 9 per cent, according to the United Arab Emirates 2013 Yearbook.
“If we are to truly achieve our goals of making Dubai a tourism hub and reach the target of 25 million visitors, we need to work together to enhance the guest experience. This change is not an infrastructural change, it is a regulatory change, and is therefore possible,” added Bamps. “I do believe that with the guidance of our visionary leadership, GCC regulators can work closely together to help us extend a warm welcome to regional and global yacht owners.”