Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko Widodo highlighted the importance of marine tourism at the opening of the Singapore-Indonesia Investment Forum yesterday in Singapore.

Following enthusiastic opening speeches from both leaders, there was discussion about a major plan to create 10 new 'Bali-style' resorts. There was also real excitement about the potential economic impact from yacht arrivals in Indonesia. While much of the discussion focused on cruise-liner developments, there was mention of marina developments and the subsequent growth of leisure boating.

A statement issued by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs says: “Both leaders reaffirmed the excellent state of bilateral ties, and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia. The leaders welcomed efforts towards harnessing the growth potential of cruise tourism in the region, which will open up new destinations to tourists and generate more jobs and revenue for both countries.

"The leaders also welcomed several private-sector driven tourism-related MOU’s signed earlier this year. This included an MOU to provide consultancy and management expertise in marina development in East Java’s Boom Banyuwangi."

In an interview with IBI, Verventia CEO Andy Treadwell, who runs both the Singapore and Thailand yacht shows, said: “It’s been seven years since we first came to look at the potential of the market in Asia and it seems to me we are witnessing a real sea change. Things are moving on apace here now with the backing of both the Singapore and Indonesian governments, which we heard in the Prime Ministers' speech at the Investment Forum.

"A healthy future is starting to take shape for the superyacht industry in Asia. It's time to take notice of what's happening in the region. As an example, the Thai government's enthusiastic and proactive approach to the superyacht charter licence project reflects the general cultural appetite in these parts to join in, and play big – there’s a real ‘Me Too’ attitude, and a healthy desire to compete and enjoy success. And as everybody knows, there are now more billionaires, with more collective private wealth and a higher rate of growth in Asia-Pacific than in Europe or in America.”

Commenting further on the spread of wealth in the region, Treadwell said: “It's mostly new wealth, too – billionaires are generally self-made in this region, and therefore much younger (a third of them under 50), with a huge appetite for learning and living new lifestyles. They are starting to like the look of yachting for fun.”