By John Ross – FijiSun 28 Feb 2015
The Annual Fijian International Yachting Visitors Survey, conducted each year by Port Denarau Marina as an aid to marketing Fiji as a destinationfor this valuable segment of the tourism sector, has just been released. The results show spectacular growth in numbers and most importantly, in the total value of yachting tourism to the Fijian economy.
This growth is the result of very strong marketing efforts by the operators in the market, with the support of the Fijian Government and Tourism Fiji. With the segment now valued at over $39.5 million in direct contribution to the Fiji economy, the importance of yachting and of Fiji as a yachting destination has now been increased.
Nigel Skeggs, Port Denarau Marina CEO, said: “While yachting appears to be a small tourism segment its contribution to the local economy is significant. And with good marketing and infrastructure development we believe that there will continue to be strong growth in the future.
“And the 2014 contribution to the Fiji economy, at nearly 40% higher than the previous year is extraordinary. We are so confident that we are investing heavily to expand the facilities at the Marina to make the destination for yachting world class and for the people of Fiji the great benefit is that most of the money stays in Fiji”.
The yachting tourism segment had been growing well since the first survey in 2010, but on all measures was stagnant in 2012 and 2013. Much of the stagnation can be explained by the significant effects of Cyclone Evan in December 2012, and the devastation that lingered until mid 2013.
The yachting fraternity is very conscious of the effects of weather and a category 5 cyclone is a particularly dramatic issue. Because of the problems in gaining growth during 2013, the industry increased their marketing effort and the development of a higher awareness of Fiji as a destination was made a priority.
The marketing included a significant number of articles in the world yachting magazines and the specialized Super Yacht magazines, as well as strengthened and the famous Monaco Super Yacht Show, the annual focus of the Super Yacht fraternity.
Attendance at the Monaco Show is expensive and time consuming, but to be seen as a serious Super Yacht port it is necessary. And it must be done well.
In yachting tourism the real money is in the Super Yacht category and Fiji has put a lot of effort into establishing the destination’s awareness with the small group of owners. In building the value of the market it was necessary to ensure that the entire infrastructure the Super Yachts wanted was available and the operators in Fiji, particularly Port Denarau Marina, have spent large amounts of their own funds to bring the destination up to standard.
Backed up by the infrastructure of the Denarau hotels and entertainment areas, Fiji is now a world standard destination.
By all measures, the Annual Yachting Survey shows the results of the effort, a dramatic increase from a very difficult period. The industry in Fiji is convinced that the growth can be continued in the future, provided the marketing effort is continued.
The Fijian Government has been very supportive by providing, through legislation, a very yachting friendly environment, making entry and exit easier, opening up cruising areas that were closed to yachts in the past and simplifying crew transfers. All these things have contributed to the results this year.
One of the important benefits of the cruising yacht tourists is that they spend a lot of time in Fiji, and they spread the tourist dollar widely into all the maritime regions. For example, in 2014 Super Yachts stayed 104 days, cruising yachts under 80 feet stayed 172 days on average.
The 56 Super Yachts contributed a total of $16.4 million to the Fiji economy in 2014 and other yachts contributed $17.7 million.
Yachts also contributed over $6.8 million in VAT and other charges to the government.