Gulf Craft bullish on prospects in SE Asia

title=GEORGE TOWN: The Middle East luxury yacht builder Gulf Craft is looking at Southeast Asian markets – including Malaysia – as a source for increased revenue.

The company’s chief operating officer (COO) Erwin Bamps did not discount the possibility of considering Penang as a potential hub for a shipyard in the region, if the demand for its leisure craft is good.

“Asia currently contributes about 20 per cent of our annual revenue and we are looking at a possible 10 per cent increase in the next one to two years,” he told Business Times over the weekend.

Gulf Craft, whose marketing presence in Malaysia for the past two decades is via Penang-based Pen-Marine Sdn Bhd, has sold a total of 150 of its leisure boats here to date.

The company, which is synony-mous with yachts like the “Majesty”, “Onyx” and “Silvercraft” is bullish about Southeast Asia’s huge potential for yachting.

“We are not only seeing a new generation of dynamic and wealthy business people looking for quality lifestyles,” Bamps said, “but the entire area is now gradually opening up for marine tourism as it becomes more and more feasible and attractive for an owner to keep and cruise a luxury yacht in Southeast Asia.”

Singling out Penang for its emerging waterfront property development, Bamps said the state would do well to promote a nautical lifestyle to yacht owners.

“Penang definitely has the potential as an international hub for yacht owners as if the proper steps are taken to put yachting on the tourism agenda, the spin-offs to sectors ranging from property, food and beverage, and a host of services will be manifold,” he noted.

Bamps said he met with the Singapore Tourism Board officials recently, as Singapore is looking to attract a different quality of international spenders to the island republic.

Meanwhile, Pen-Marine’s managing director Oh Kean Shen said Malaysia can assist the yachting sector by ensuring that there are adequate and well-equipped ma-rinas dotting the country.

Malaysia is currently home to an estimated 1,500 leisure boats.

Oh also stressed on the need for financing facilities to be made available to yacht investors, given the fact that Malaysia does not impose duty on pleasure yachts.

“Owing to Langkawi’s position as a duty-free island,” he said, “many boats from Singapore and Phuket are registered with the Langkawi International Yacht Registry (LIYR),” he said.

LIYR is an exclusive international yacht registry operated by the director-general of Marine Malaysia.

It is designed for yacht owners who are seeking to operate under the advantages of an open registry, and there are no restrictions on ownership and is open to individuals, joint owners, corporations and yachting entities.

SOURCE: Business Times

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