Global action plan to boost jobs and exports
FAR NORTH Queensland is investing $ 240 million into developing a highly buoyant, world- class marine sector to attract superyacht owners and manufacturers from around the globe. Queensland has always been choice for yacht and boat lovers.
Pristine sailing areas, including the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays, combined with 7400 km of coastline, warm water, balmy temperatures and spectacular scenery, have been drawing fans of luxury watercraft from around Australia and the world for years.
Two thirds of Australian recreational boat building exports are manufactured in Queensland, and a survey commissioned by the Queensland Government and conducted by the Boating Association of Queensland ( now Marine Queensland), reported that Queensland’s marine industry employs an estimated 11,000 people and contributes $ 2.6 billon to the State’s economy.
The survey also stated the industry is continuing to experience strong and consistent growth across the State. Leading prestige marine companies including Riviera Marine, Azzura Yachts, and Quintrex have chosen to locate their operations in the sunshine state.
Growth in this sector averaged more than 9 per cent a year over a 10- year period and now the Cairns and Far North Queensland Centre of Enterprise initiative is targeting a world- class marine sector for the region.
Last month, the Minister for Tourism, Regional Development and Industry, Desley Boyle, announced the first plan for the region’s marine services sector at a launch in Cairns.
While we have a strong diverse industry here with established businesses and operators, what we haven’t had up to this point is a clear direction for long- term growth,’’ says Ms Boyle.
She says the Marine Services Sector Industry Action Plan would focus on three key areas:
Raising the sector’s international profile to capture a greater share of global business;
Driving competitiveness by building capability and capacity;
Ensuring the appropriate infrastructure and regulatory environment are in place to enable sustainable business growth.
Moreover, Ms Boyle explains added activities under the plan will include working with the Superyacht Group - Great Barrier Reef to grow the superyacht charter and service sector and encouraging investment in a superyacht manufacturing facility in the region.
We also hope to capture more refit and maintenance work in commercial and defence markets, promote our provedoring services to cruise ships, strengthen marine tourism and further develop and market our world- class marine training programs,’’ Ms Boyle says.
And one of the first actions will be a comprehensive study of the current state of the industry with a view to development not only here in Cairns but in other key areas such as Weipa, Cooktown and the Torres Strait where we can take advantage of existing infrastructure.’’
The general manager of Marine Queensland ( MQ) Don Jones, is also supportive of the development of the Superyacht Base in the Queensland region as this will increase both employment and tourism prospects for the industry and state.
The organisation has over 600 industrybased members made up of individuals and companies.
Mr Jones estimates that approximately 200 members are involved in the prestige yachting/ boating industry in the state.
Luxury vessels have the highest percentage registration increase of any category or size,’’ he says. Of approximately 218,000 vessels registered in total in Queensland, 10 per cent are eight metres- plus and or luxury.’’
MQ say the real demand in the prestige end of the market comes from senior corporate figures and baby- boomers. And we are seeing an increasing demand from mining employees.’’ Mr Jones adds.
While he acknowledges that NSW still dominates the high- end boating market, he states that Queenland is fast catching up and will soon be leading the way in terms of growth.
‘‘ Here at MQ we are dedicated to building this industry and recognise that the issue is to manage the growth effectively,’’ Mr Jones says.
According to the Superyacht Base, the peak national body representing the Ausralian Superyacht industry, the world- wide superyacht industry has grown by 26 per cent a year over the past five years.
Australia now has 15 superyachts - 12 of which have been commissioned for export - currently under construction, worth approximately $ 650 million in total.
In 2007 around 60 superyachts visited Australia and yacht construction and visits are now worth about $ 810 million a year to Australia.
The Australian Government’s Marine Industry Action Agenda includes plans to enhance the superyacht industry by developing our domestic and export markets; addressing regulatory impediments; encouraging innovation, training and skills development; and encouraging industry leadership.
Superyacht Base Australia in conjunction with Austrade, is working closely to showcase Australia as an internationally- competitive manufacturer of superyachts.