In many ways, Vietnam and China mirror each other in stunning and rapid wealth creation, making both prime markets for high-end yacht sales, but the way each country’s government embraces big boats is having opposite effects.
In the past decade, according to analysis by Bloomberg News, China has made more billionaires than any other country. Between 2013 and 2018, Vietnam minted more “ultra-high-net-worth” individuals than any other country, including China. Vietnam’s economic growth has been consistently above 6% during that time.
In Nha Trang, on Vietnam’s east coast, the country’s first deep water marina is slated for completion later this year. Ana Marina, which can accommodate up to 220 yachts, will also include a clubhouse, conference centre, fine dining and high-rise villas.
“People in Saigon have yachts but the dilemma is Saigon isn’t near the sea,” Dang Hieu, Ana Marina’s chief executive officer, told Bloomberg, referring to Ho Chi Minh City by its previous name. “People are also looking for a safe place to keep them.”
Ana Marina is drawing interest from as far as Japan and South Korea. “People want to send their yachts to Vietnam to avoid undesirable weather conditions,” Dang said.
A luxury tax of 30% can be waived if a company uses the yacht for charter. It also takes less time to import a yacht because there’s implicit government support for opportunities that bring value to the country.
The Vietnamese investment firm Openasia Group got into the boat business in 2017, launching Tam Son Yachting, now Vietnam’s official importer of Beneteau. Openasia has also invested in yachting infrastructure. It’s behind a service centre for yacht maintenance and a marina along the Saigon River called Central Park Marina.
Tam Son Yachting recently sold a 60ft Beneteau Monte Carlo 6 to Reverie Saigon, the city’s first six-star hotel, to use for private charters.
Vietnam’s socialist government has been supportive of promoting yachting, at least for tourism purposes. That’s in contrast to China, where ostentatious displays of wealth are frowned upon, limiting the market.
In 2010 a new yacht fair, Hainan Rendez-Vous, started in Sanya. In 2012 the China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association predicted there would be 100,000 luxury vessels in China by 2020; at the time, there were only 3,000 yachts of any size there. Today, there are only three known Chinese owners of the top 200 biggest yachts.
Yacht brokers did not anticipate the rise of Xi Jinping, who took over as Communist Party general secretary in 2012, and let loose a campaign against corruption and conspicuous consumption.
Gordon Hui, chairman of Sunseeker Asia Ltd, who’s been selling boats in the region since the early 2000s, said he closed three dealerships in China since the Rendez-Vous blowup and hasn’t sold a yacht for use in China since 2015.
“If they buy a house in the US or jewelry, nobody knows,” says Fang Yuan, CEO of Heysea Yachts Group Ltd, which operates a shipyard near Zhuhai on China’s southern coast and sells to retail customers. “But if you buy a yacht, you can’t hide that. It’s so big, and it’s there on the water.”
Owning a large yacht in China can be difficult for other reasons including a lack of shipyards, suppliers, and dockage, restrictions on the number of passengers and a 44% import duty and 36.5% domestic sales tax.
One billionaire to take delivery of a superyacht in China is Wang Jianlin, who moored a 95ft one in a marina his group owned in Qingdao. He ordered it after his company, Dalian Wanda Group, purchased 92% of British builder Sunseeker in 2013. But last year Wang sold the craft and the marina.