Leisure Boating Business Set for a Boom in India
Construction of marinas to give boost to big-spending tourists
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Queen Mary 2 set sail on its 23-night cruising journey from Sydney to Dubai, on Feb. 26 and will be visiting Yokohama, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore and Goa with a night's stay in Dubai.

The fare pegged at US$7,899 per person twin-share is a figure well above the reach of the rich Indian a few years ago. But things are changing in India, with a booming economy, Indians keen in splurging their extra fads of cash have varied options in the holiday market and cruising is one of them.

For many Indians, owning a luxury yacht is one dream they cherish. Jeriton Dias, an Indian from western state of Goa is one of them. He is sailing on Queen Mary 2. He has not bought a cruising holiday but he is one of the 1,200 odd staff. For him the cruising holiday does not entice him and his family anymore. He is looking to own a yacht, both for leisure and business option and park it in Goa and explore more of the rural Goa.

Owning a luxury yacht and parking it in a designated marina in Indian waters is a dream most Indians look forward to. Now question arises whether India has sufficient marinas? Optimistic Indians have dreams for leisure boating in India.

But is India ready for a leisure boating boom? Can a country, which does not have any marinas along its coast, rival to overtake up market destinations like French Riviera?

In the absence of marinas, parking can be a nightmare for yacht owners in India and Goa is one of them.

But, the leisure boating industry is set to change if entrepreneur's plans to set up marinas in Goa and on the Konkan coast get the mandatory environmental green signals from the government.

One of them is a business tycoon from Goa and a keen water sports lover, Umaji V Chowgule, MD, Goa Yacht Haven Pvt Ltd. Chowgule, whose family business interests range from mining to brewing the popular Arlem beer in Goa, is planning to build a 300-boat marina in Sancoale village, in Mormugao Taluka, at the mouth of the Zuari river in Goa with an investment of Rs 100 crore (US$2.5 million).

The construction of the marina is set to give Goa's aim to get high-spending foreign tourists a shot in the arm, which the tourism authorities and ministers have trying to push albeit unsuccessfully over the last few years. Goa, as of now, as a tourist destination, has been a favourite haunt for back packers and low and middle budget foreign tourists.

The berthing facility for marinas is also likely to create around 1,000 to 2,000 jobs directly or indirectly related to industry.

A marina is a berth's facility where boats are anchored and are safe from mischief mongers and from the uncertainties of the weather. The marina can also provide facilities like fuel stations, boat servicing, restaurants, bars and other recreational activities.

"If you need to protect the leisure boat in the sea along Mumbai's coast, you need to construct a marina. We need to construct amenities like marinas so that people can sail and even stay away from the coast for a weekend," says Robin Walters, chairman of Walcon Marine Ltd, a worldwide expert in marina building, in a report in the Times of India. And he also allays the fears of environmental degradation due to the dredging operations.

"The concrete piles erected for a marina have adequate gaps for the water to flow beneath. In fact, in the UK, we have an award for the best marina every year," said Walters.

The Dubai International Boat Show (DIBS), which is into its sixteenth year and will be staged this year from March 11 to 15, at Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC), Mina Seyahi and is a place where rich Indians buy their yacht.

"Dubai is a leading marine hub in the Middle East for the rich Arabs from the region to buy yachts. Market analysts in the leisure yachts industry point out that the GCC Arabs are the biggest buyers of the yachts in the world. And all the yachts are not parked in their home countries, but in holiday destinations in the Mediterranean countries. But new buyers are emerging from India and Russia," says Helen Wyand, project director, DIBS.

"Indians buying yachts at the DIBS are increasing. Those buying are the rich Indians based in Dubai and also from India who fly in especially for the show with a range of choices available for placing orders in Dubai for the luxury yachts," she said.

A luxury yacht, which is made according to customer specifications, takes eight months to one year to be delivered and the most expensive one costs five million euros.

In the next five years, the leisure boating industry will be worth at least US$1 billion (around Rs4,000 crore) in India, says a report in the livemint.com of The Wall Street journal.

"Elsewhere, entrepreneur Andrew Farkas, founder and CEO of Island global Yachting, is keen on developing a worldwide network of luxury marinas that will change the way yachtsmen and their crew experience the world's most sough-after yachting destinations from the Caribbean to the Middle East," says a report in Yachts Emirates.

How India with its 7,600 km of virgin coastline fits into his plans remains to be seen, but one thing is sure with the projected sales figures of Rs150 crore (US$3.75 million) this year - development of marina, along the coastline, is an urgent necessity to give the industry a kick start it is looking for.

2008/03/10 오후 3:42
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