Around 260 international and local industry professionals gathered in Sanctuary Cove this week for the 7th Australian Superyacht, Marine Export & Commercial Marine Industry (ASMEX) conference.

Richard Chapman, president of AIMEX, opened the event on Monday by referencing the Australian Superyacht Industry Economic Impact Study and its findings that the industry contributes A$1.96bn to the Australian economy. Professionals from a wide array of yachting, marketing and economics backgrounds presented further information over the course of three days.

Amongst the speakers on Day 1 were Kiran Haslam of Princess Yachts; Erwin Bamps, CEO of Gulf Craft; Joshua Lee, founder and managing director of Lee Marine in Thailand; and Roland Briene, area manager Asia-Pacific for Damen Shipyards.

Conference chair and managing director of The Superyacht Group, Martin Redmayne, opened the event as it delved into issues facing the Australian industry. These were described as a lack of understanding and support from government authorities at all ends of the boating and yachting spectrum.

Greg Haines of Gold Coast-based boatbuilder Maritimo said they receive no financial support for their R&D efforts, which are at the forefront of keeping them globally competitive. This is a far cry from the A$32,000 per employee for the ailing car manufacturing sector.

From manufacturers to captains and service providers, the room called for specific regulation acknowledging it special place in Australia’s economy and social history.

Kevin Merrigan, CEO of US brokerage Northrop & Johnson, counselled the industry to look at the Floridian model of simple and low taxes, standardised agreements and developing the charter market which has propelled the yachting industry as the second largest in the state behind tourism.

“We have been having conversations with various politicians, state and federal, for over a decade trying to explain the value of this niche industry and what additional potential it has in the right regulatory context,” said conference organiser MaryAnne Edwards, CEO of Superyacht Australia and AIMEX.

“Today reiterated the state of play for the industry and I am confident delegates heard new and insightful commentary from around the globe.”

The second day of the ASMEX Conference may prove to be pivotal, as the recently completed economic impact study will be tabled which lays out the industry’s current value and future potential.  It is expected to quantify the missed income and economic impact by not having dedicated legislation and regulations for the boating and yachting sectors.