As China's super-rich grow richer they need new toys to play with. Now some are betting that superyachts will be the next big thing for Chinese millionaires who want to show off their bling.
“There's no question that Chinese have the appetite and the deep pockets for a thriving yacht culture,” Traugott Kaminski, China CEO for the yacht firm Sunseeker, told CNN.
According to figures the state media cite, there are about 1,300 private yachts in China. That compares with 17 million privately owned recreational boats in the United States.
But where some see China as a yacht-seller's paradise, others are more cautious.
“In 2010, China only imported about 100 yachts — that's not a lot when you consider the country's wealth and population,” Bart Kimman, Dutch CEO of Asia Yacht Services, a Hong Kong brokerage firm tailored to the growing Asian market, told CNN.
Although Kimman stresses that demand has increased from next to nothing only two years ago, he believes the Chinese market is still caught in a net of prohibitions.
Keyu Jin, an assistant economics professor at the London School of Economics, said Chinese trendsetters will need to take up yachting before it really takes off.
“How do you jump-start a hobby?” she asked. “It's like European wine in China — in the beginning no one drank it, then a very few people started drinking a particular French brand, now finally there is a big market. It's a herd mentality.”