Yacht industry experts and representatives from various Thai government departments discussed updates to regulations and licensing for charter boats in Thai waters at the Thailand Yachting Forum earlier this month.
Drawing attention to the value of marine tourism along Thailand’s coastline, Vincent Tabuteau of the Thailand Marine Business Association (TMBA) spoke on the state of yachting in the Andaman Sea. Despite the destination being well known within Thailand, Tabuteau commented on how the TMBA was often surprised at how few overseas charter brokers are knowledgeable about the region. The result is a knock-on effect of fewer visiting superyachts when the infrastructure exists to service them: With the coastline consisting of fully established facilities for bareboat day charters and long-term luxury yachts of all sizes, promotion was essential to the region’s continued development. “Thailand and the Andaman desperately need more promotion overseas. Right now, we are training our clients to come here, and to come back again.”
Tabuteau was not alone in speaking up for greater promotion of Thailand’s underused charter grounds: CEO of Gulf Charters Ron Patston estimates that boating activities, including luxury charters and regattas, contribute approximately THB 165m ($4.6m USD) annually to the Thai economy, with the potential for the figure to grow.
Comparing the reputation of the Gulf of Thailand to the Andaman Sea, “The Gulf of Thailand is almost entirely unknown to overseas charterers. There are only 10 bareboat charter boats operating in the Koh Chang area. A week is hardly enough for a cruise. The water is clear as gin, there are almost no navigational hazards, and onshore facilities range from 6-star resorts to small beach bungalows.”
With over 1,000 nautical miles of Thai coastline to explore, 2,500 marina berths and onshore destinations both modern and historical, Thailand has much to offer tourists of all budgets.
The Thailand Yachting Forum began the Thailand Yacht Show (running from 15-18 December), in Phuket. Now in its second year, the Thailand Boat Show aims to promote the country as an alternative to the Mediterranean and Caribbean, particularly as a winter destination.