The Guangdong Marine Leisure Tourism Zhuhai sub-site and Zhuhai Yacht Tourism Exhibition will be launched by next weekend, it was announced at a meeting on Wednesday.
Seven yacht manufacturers, including Sunbird Yacht Manufacturing, Jianglong Shipbuilding, Maxi Marine Group and Jet-Tern Marine, have signed on. Moreover, the Zhuhai Yacht Association will provide vessels for water and land exhibition while Sunbird will again represent Zhuhai at the provincial main-site launching ceremony in Guangzhou. Sunbird will also present one yacht for water display at the Zhuhai exhibition.
The Guangdong Coastal Tourism Development Plan 2011-20 just issued requires that Zhuhai become the country's first yacht city.
Based on the Pingsha Yacht Industrial Base, Zhuhai should import more world-renowned medium- and high-grade yacht manufacturers, promote yacht consumption centring on tourism, and create a tourist industry cluster featuring yacht production, service and operation, according to the plan.
Sunbird and Guangdong Jianglong represented the Pingsha Yacht Industrial Zone and city in the China (Guangdong) International Tourism Industry Expo (CITIE) 2012, a world-class exhibition organised by the National Tourism Administration and Guangdong government in the China Import & Export Fair Pazhou Complex a week ago Friday. The expo ended last Sunday.
Founded in 2002, the Pingsha Yacht Industrial Base has become the country's largest with the highest manufacturing level. It was designated a 2008 Guangdong (Yacht) Technological Innovation Professional Town. Read more :
The base encompasses 18 yacht manufacturers including Sunbird, Jianglong, Jet-Tern, IAG Yacht Engineering, Prout Yacht and McConaghy Boats Zhuhai, six support enterprises and more than 30 trade and business support firms with investment totalling $300 million.
Zhuhai plans to build the province's biggest comprehensive yacht club with 500 berths in the first phase and 1,500 berths in the long run. The club will focus on berthing, yacht leisure tourism, pilot training, yacht exhibition and marketing.
The western yacht industry economy began to burgeon when per capita GDP reached $3,000 and entered a fast-growth track when it topped $6,000. China has laid an essential foundation for the development of the industry, according to a spokesperson.
Many people think yachts are high-grade equipment or luxury toys for the rich, however, many ordinary people get involved, especially with sailboats priced at around 10,000 yuan ($1,583). Sailboating is part of the yacht culture, noted Xu Fengjiao, a woman with Nansha Yacht Club.
In the wake of the international financial crisis, an increasing number of international yacht manufacturers transferred their focus to China.
Some 80 percent of their products, of which 30 to 40 percent go to private purchasers, are sold domestically. Nonetheless, most yachts sold are big and medium-sized ranging from 60ft to 100ft. Small yachts for individual amusement have few takers. Many potential Chinese consumers just wait and see, according to staff at both Sunbird and Jianglong.
In sharp contrast, the yacht culture has become part of people's life in western countries; for example, a middle-class family goes to the sea for fishing or sunbathing on a small sailboat or a yacht at weekends. This contrast comes from not only economic factors, but also from a different understanding of marine culture. "Yachts have little consumer-company identification in China, as not so many Chinese people like to play or explore on the sea," Xu explained.
Yang Yong with Sunbird agreed. "Far from taking shape, yacht culture is still running up in China." Nevertheless, the improvement of policies and increasing participation of the public will help foster the culture. What matters most is not money but comprehension of marine culture, he noted.
Yacht clubs are mainly related to sports and recreation, leisure activities and business. In China, yacht clubs operate in terms of membership, through which are provided yacht leasing or sales, maintenance, steering training, navigation and support recreation services. Some contain individual or corporate members who enjoy all package services covered by membership fees.
To purchase a yacht, the first thing to consider is where to berth. The price for a berth is nearly 1 million yuan ($158,000) and it can be purchased from yacht clubs. Additionally, licensing and certificates are needed for yachts going out to sea. One also needs to have know-how of sea maps, routes, anchorages and information about traffic-intensive areas and mariculture zones, according to a manager with Jianglong.
The Pingsha Yacht industry had an industrial output value of 449 million yuan ($71.17 million) in the first half of the year, up 106 percent. The figure is to rise to 1.3 billion yuan ($210 million) by the end of the year.
Apart from the sharp increase in demand for service boats for maritime authorities, border-crossing inspection, frontier defence and other departments, construction or preparation of yacht clubs in a number of Chinese cities has contributed to the growth of the industry in Pingsha, industry insiders say.