Yacht charters: an increasingly popular option for the traveller seeking privacy in the Seychelles
Luxury yachts moored at the Eden Island marina, a private reclaimed island and marina development situated off the coast of Mahe, the main inhabited island of the Seychelles (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The business of yacht charters is a booming industry in the Seychelles archipelago of 115 islands.
The beautiful island destination is characterised by a diverse array of lush green islands set within glittering turquoise reefs teeming with abundant marine life, an ideally secluded and romantic spot favoured by some of the most rich and famous people in the world.
According to a recent insert published last Friday on the BBC’s Africa Business Report, wealthy travellers are increasingly opting to charter luxury yachts as the perfect way to unwind in total privacy.
Graham Gower, the captain of a Seychelles-based four-cabin luxury Ferretti 761 yacht called ‘Sea Stream’, the majority of his clientele are well-to-do European travellers, and are more than able to stomach the hefty price tag associated with chartering the vessel.
A one-day cruise for up to four couples could hit the pocket pretty hard, costing around 6,800 Euros per day for between 8 to 12 hours on the ocean, and a longer week-long charter could cost around 45,000 Euros, but Gower says this is becoming a popular alternative to hotel accommodation.
“Basically every single day you can wake up in a different bay, go to sleep at night, tell the captain where you’d like to wake up tomorrow morning and voila!”
“If you are looking at one of the top resorts it doesn’t cost you a lot more to be on a boat,” he told the BBC.
|Hundreds of people visited the wide variety of different boats on display at the marina for the first-ever edition of the national boat show in June (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Gower said that many wealthy businessmen buy luxury yachts without appreciating the high costs of running and maintaining the vessels, resulting in the majority of them being put out to the charter market.
“The charter industry in the Seychelles has faced a few challenges; the main challenge being the whole piracy issue – around 2009 there was a lot of active piracy in the region,” he said. “This year I find the piracy issue has died down and we are a lot busier; the whole industry seems to have picked up although the whole economy seems to have taken a bit of a dip, the charter industry seems to be picking up nicely in the Seychelles.”
According to Swiss bank UBS and Wealth-X's annual World Ultra Wealth Report for 2014, the super-rich spend up to $22 billion each year on yachts and yacht charters.
Gower’s point of view seems to hold water within the Seychelles yachting industry at large; those in the know who spoke to SNA confirmed that 2015 has indeed been a good year.
Carly Ferreira from Ocean Charters, which is a yacht charter company based at Eden Island Marina, confirmed that business was booming.
“I have just recently taken over the management of the company but from what I have seen, the amount of enquiries, certainly it’s increased. It’s definitely worthwhile, otherwise we wouldn’t still be here after six months,” she told SNA in a telephone interview on Monday morning.
“We get mostly people booking overnight trips, we don’t really see many people booking two or three days on the boats, usually it’s from the hotel where they are staying such as Constance Ephelia to Moyenne overnight or further away would be to La Digue or Praslin,” she explained.
Ferreira, who is a South African national, says the majority of her clients are from South Africa and Russia, adding that despite the economic slowdown in the Russian economy and subsequent drop in Russian visitor arrivals to the Seychelles, the Russian side of her business has not thus far been affected.
|President James Michel also visited the national boat show, expressing the hope that the yachting industry had a lot to offer the economy of Seychelles (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo license: CC-BY|
Speaking to SNA in a telephone interview on Monday morning, the manager of the Seychelles Yacht Club, Eleanor Scharfenberg, said she had noticed that the archipelago was becoming increasingly popular as a destination for visiting yachts.
“We cannot talk about the charter business as all the yachts we have here are privately owned, but what I can tell you is that we are seeing an increase in the yachts in transit from other countries,” she said, adding that for some years previously foreign yachts were rarely seen in the Seychelles because of the threat of piracy, but said this was now starting to increase rapidly.
“Now they come from countries such as Reunion, Madagascar, Mauritius and all around the world – even as far afield as Mexico! This shows that the way to Seychelles is much safer,” she said.
The yachting season in the Seychelles runs from November to May. In addition to providing a relaxed refuge for the super-rich, yacht charters are also popular among game fishing enthusiasts, an increasing number of whom visit the Seychelles only to make the most of the Seychelles' abundant sea-life.
Seychelles has two luxury yacht marinas, Eden Island Marina and the Wharf Marina, both found on the coastline of Mahé, the main island of the Indian Ocean archipelago, where boat owners enjoy a degree of anonymity and tranquility, as the remote location of the islands are valued as an exclusive yachting destination.
The recent inauguration of the country’s first national boat show in June was an indicator of the yachting industry’s economic potential, as a wide variety of yachts, leisure craft and other vessels came out on display to the general public at the Eden Island marina on the main island of Mahé.
While touring the boats on show, the President of Seychelles, James Michel told local media that he believed the Seychelles could soon become a centre for yachting in the Indian Ocean as another facet to the tourism and blue economy sectors.