The established annual ASMEX conference proved once again that it is a successful venue to air key issues facing the Australian marine industry

ASMEX 2018, the Australian Superyacht, Marine Export and Commercial Marine Industry Conference, was held at the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort from May 22-23, 2018. Its comprehensive program provided updates on the work of the Australian International Marine Export Group (AIMEX), Superyacht Australia, and the Australian Commercial Marine Group (ACMG).

A new feature of the conference was the three Breakout Sessions looking at Superyachts, Export Performance and the Commercial Marine Sector.

The announcement on the first day of ASMEX 2018 of a new five-year Queensland Superyacht Strategy gave the event a very positive opener.

Discussion in the Superyacht Breakout session also covered the planned Australian Superyacht Strategy and there was an active exchange between industry stakeholders and government representatives about visas, food regulations, charter operations and how legislation and rules are interpreted across the country.

“This is a really significant boost for the Australian superyacht industry,” Superyacht Australia director, MaryAnne Edwards, said following the announcement of the strategy. “We hope to complete the work on the national Superyacht Strategy shortly and if we can just secure the charter arrangements for foreign-flag yachts soon, then the industry in Australia will really be in line for a very bright future.”

With a welcoming address from the Honourable Steven Ciobo, MP, Minister of Trade, Tourism & Investment, the links with government were emphasised early in the conference program. Growing links between AIMEX, Superyacht Australia and the ACMG was a running theme through the two days and the general consensus among delegates was that these relationships are strengthening and delivering.

The one really outstanding issue is the plan for superyacht charter licences for foreign-flaged yachts, which is hoped to be finalised next month.

Other points raised by presentations on Day 1 included:

  • The continuing need to educate superyacht owners and captains about what Australia has to offer. Tourism Australia is now working with Superyacht Australia and holding promotional/marketing events at such as the Monaco Yacht Show, Fort Lauderdale Boat Show and others are on the cards
  • With several superyacht owners and captains planning their future voyages over the next few years, including possibly visiting the America’s Cup races, the need for promotion to attract these yachts to also come to Australia needs to be done as soon as possible
  • The upcoming launch of the latest Great Southern Route from Ocean Media was seen as key tool in communicating with yachts owners, captains and crew and building awareness
  • The number of superyachts currently in the region was said to be about 60, of which about half are Australian-owned
  • A number of Australian owners are said to be interested buying larger yachts
  • A need for more infrastructure, especially for very large superyachts, was identified and mention was made of superyacht berths in central city locations such as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
  • In terms of the America’s Cup, which is being a held in New Zealand in 2021, there was discussion of how Australia could boost promotion to attract yachts to Australia
  • The value of good photos for adverts and promotion/PR initiatives was covered by Italian professional photographer, Andrea Francolini
  • An informative and entertaining presentation encompassing yachts, lifestyle, corporate actions and personalities was made by Kiran Haslam, marketing director of Princess Yachts in the UK
  • The need for statistics is often mentioned in the marine market and this was covered in a presentation on the KPMG Civil Marine Sector undertaken in 2017. This study looked specifically at the Australia’s marine industry capability, industry strengths and weaknesses and its contribution to the country’s GDP
  • An interview with industry leader Wes Moxey, CEO of Riviera, completed the first day’s program

Day 2 of ASMEX 2018 included presentations focusing on new opportunities, further developing international links to attract more yachts to visit and generating more business for the Australian marine market. These included:

  • James McPhall, managing director of Pantaenius Australia, giving an overview of the Australian boating industry post Tyhoon Debi. He explained that because of the Tyhoon and the hurricanes in the Caribbean in 2017, that a number of insurance companies had withdrawn from the market and that obtaining insurance coverage was going to be more difficult and expensive in the future. As to Pantaenius, McPhall indicated that out of 110 claims, only a few have not been settled
  • Peter Mahony, general manager of Benetti Asia, looked  at the value of international alliances and partnerships. This included mention of the 18 superyachts built for Asia Pacific by Benetti and its association with Geoff Lovett as Australian agent and the Gold Coast City Marina & Shipyard as its service partner
  • The current state of the US market and the similarities between the American and Australian markets was explored by Kitty McGowan, president of the US Superyacht Association. With the growth of the US Northwest Pacific boating market, the case was made that this might be a growth opportunity for Australia including closer USA-Superyacht Australia links
  • Bill Barry-Cotter, the doyen of the Australian boating industry, shared in an informative interview undertaken by Superyacht Group editor-in-chief, Martin Redmayne. This gave an insight into the various businesses that Bill has been involved in over the years and especially his current ownership of the successful and expanding Maritimo brand
  • An update on plans for the America’s Cup 2021 was presented by Peter Busfield, executive director of the New Zealand Marine Industry Association. He gave the latest information of plans for the facilities to cater for the teams and the provision of 92 berths for visiting superyachts
  • Two presentations on marketing, one from Franziska Iseli, whose businesses include one called Oceanlovers and one from New Zealander Clint Jones, who runs the Oceanmax brand
  • The final conference presentation was made by Chris Lloyd, Vice President-Maritime for Thales Australia. He spoke of the extensive investments being made in new facilities for the Australian naval fleet which would also be available to meeting the needs of commercial ships and possibly superyachts