In a major new development, the Chinese government is proposing to undertake ‘an experimental project’ in the southern island province of Hainan, which, if successful, could be instrumental in giving the yacht industry in China a huge boost.

Initial details of the initiative were given at the Asia Pacific Superyacht Conference held in Singapore by Li Ning, secretary general of the Hainan Cruise & Yacht Association (HCYA). Sharing in this potentially influential plan is the Singapore-listed marina operator SUTL Enterprise Ltd, which late last year signed a MOU with the HCYA to help share best practices and knowledge of the yacht industry.

Li Ning told IBI: “This new experiment will be developed over the next one to three years and it will include yacht building, new marinas and other yacht-related activities. Currently Hainan has 14 marinas which offer a total of 1,835 berths for yachts up to 60m (195ft). The largest of these has 700 berths.”

As to yacht building, he said that large yacht-building yards would be established and subsidised by the Chinese government. “A number of areas for yacht industry centres are being identified and participation in these will be open to both domestic and international companies which would receive the subsidies.”

An estimate was presented that over the next 10 years as many as 20,000 yachts could be built in these yacht industry centres. Of this total, 20% or 4,000 yachts, were described as being superyachts – ie, yachts over 21m (70ft) in length.

With the recent and current situation in the Chinese yacht industry, these numbers seem very high, but it was pointed out that the size of the Chinese middle class is increasing rapidly and this is seen as a large part of the new buyers of yachts. As usual, it is a case of wait and see.

Through the MOU, SUTL is planning to hold a yachting industry conference in Hainan between November and early 2019 to start examining the opportunities that the new experiment offer.

Hainan, with a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean, is the main hub for the yachting industry in China. The southern city of Sanya has been, since 2010, the location for the China/Hainan Rendezvous show, which has covered in varying degrees on an annual frequency, the luxury sectors such as property, aircraft, cars, art and jewellery, as well as yachts.

Plans were also announced some years ago to develop a yacht-building precinct in the north of Hainan at Yangpu, 130km southwest of the capital, Haikou. This proposed 154ha facility included plans to construct yachts up to 25m (80ft) but was never developed.

As to SUTL, the company already has a presence in China as it is developing two marina projects. These are based at Guisan Island, near Zhuhai in the Pearl River delta and one on a lake near Suzhou, a large city close to Shanghai.