If there is one country where many people can afford to superyacht, it’s China. Now the world’s largest economy, some 11,000 Chinese citizens are considered ultra-wealthy, with assets over $30 million, according to wealth intelligence firm, Wealth-X.
But, the superyacht industry hasn’t caught on big in China.
Superyachts are officially defined as boats whose hulls at the water line measure longer than 24 meters, or 79 feet. A superyacht — typically a private boat that requires a professional crew to operate — costs $6 million on up. Just 34 –or 0.7 percent — of the world’s 4,836 superyachts are based in China, according to a 2013 study by the Auckland Government.
In part, the lack of popularity is due to culture. Yachting is all about fun in the sun. And traditionally, many Chinese have avoided the sun and haven’t really done downtime.
“The Chinese are not used to the idea of time away from it all, especially not European style,” explained Colin Dawson, chairman of the Asia-Pacific Superyacht Association. “They tend to take a very different approach to yacht ownership – it’s a business tool, not a leisure item.”
Luc Khaldoun is the head of client advisory services at OneOcean Ventures, which provides a range of services for superyacht owners. He noted that his Chinese clients seemed to prefer yachts with “little open space” and wanted to “limit time spent outside.”
There are also some pragmatic reasons why superyachting hasn’t caught on with the Chinese elite. China has a luxury goods import tax of 43 percent. Adding to the expense: the region lacks experienced crew, so Chinese superyacht owners need to relocate Europeans and obtain work visas for them.