Boat sales in Thailand show signs of recovery

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Thailand's yachting sector is showing signs of recovery after three years of stunted growth and sluggish sales brought on by global economic turmoil, according to an industry expert in the Southeast Asian country.

"2009 saw the start of the worldwide economy downturn and sales of smaller boats was the first [segment] to be affected,” Tony Nixey, owner and managing director of Go Boating Thailand Co. Ltd., told the Phuket Gazette. "The average guy who previously could afford [boats worth] $150,000 [about 4.7 million baht by today’s exchange rates] simply disappeared overnight.”

Nixey said 2011 saw a rise in investment from the high-end segment in larger superyachts and that the trend is still upward.

"The average length and value of a superyacht is increasing year on year,” he said. “The top end is very buoyant right up to the current date. Gulfcraft, for example, now [has] seven superyachts, ranging from 105 to 135 feet, under construction and most of these were ordered in 2011 and 2012."

The mid-range sector, referring to boats from 50 to 80 feet long is also beginning to recover. However, such recovery is not entirely attributable to the strength of buyers, but mainly to deals that builders have offered to keep stock and production moving, Nixey said.

"Buyers today are [a] whole different bunch from those in 2005 through 2009. Nowadays the first thing a buyer asks when coming into the office is: ‘How much discount will you offer?’ "

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