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How the luxury yacht industry has stayed afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic

By LLM Reporters on 20th December 2020

Whichever way you look at it, 2020 has been a challenging year for business, with the travel and hospitality sector faring the worst and resulting in multiple closures and redundancies as airlines and hotel chains struggle to cope. From closed borders to enforced quarantines, the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has meant heavy restrictions on travel, with millions forcing to forego their luxury getaways in favour of staying at home.

But not everyone in the industry has seen a downturn in profits and, surprisingly, some have managed to stay afloat regardless of the devastating effects. One of those is the yachting industry, which with a traditionally affluent client base, has continued to thrive regardless.

Despite having always been a fairly niche business to be in, 2020 has brought with it an explosion of interest for yacht operators from people who would normally seek their thrills elsewhere. With flying no longer as easy as it once was, people are seeking out land and water-based alternatives instead – and for those who are unwilling to go without their luxury getaway for the year, yachts offer the ultimate in social distance holidays.

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Brokers have reported a surge in charter inquiries and a shake-up for the industry

The benefits of holidaying on board a luxury yacht – the very finest of which come with price-tags in the billions – are many. For starters, guests are not confined to one location but can move around safely without increasing the risk of infection or transmission, and can also access a range of luxury facilities including with private bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen and an area for relaxing and entertaining – all with that all-important sea view, of course.

The manufacturing of new yachts was put on hold earlier this year as factories and studios shut down, but rather than hindering the industry it only served to make the second-hand market more buoyant. Recent models and those that are only a couple of years old were able to be sold for nearer their purchase price, where normally their owners would have had to accept a much lower amount.

As a result of this, the sale of second-hand yachts in 2020 have been the highest they have ever been, as those who would, under normal circumstances, have purchased a new product, found that their options were limited to resales only. When sales of new yachts resumed, the demand was unprecedented: from April to May, there was an increase in new yacht sales of 59% worldwide, and 51% in America.

The manufacturing of new yachts was put on hold earlier this year as factories and studios shut down due to Covid-19, but rather than hindering the industry it only served to make the second-hand market more buoyant

Sales have also been pushed by people who wanted to take the opportunity to try something new. The US Boat Owners Association noted a massive 250% increase in people looking to take one of their certification courses when compared to previous years. With many other leisure activities out of bounds, access to the waterways has not only been giving people somewhere to swim and exercise, but also to socialise as a family, or to unwind and relax away from the stresses and strains of modern and Covid-19 dominated life.

It hasn’t just been an increase in sales that has helped to keep the yachting industry afloat this year; the number of those seeking yacht rentals also increased. With worldwide tourism in shambles, more people opted for a staycation somewhere nearer to home this year than they have done for many years.

Renting a yacht, whether for half a day, a day, or the whole holiday, has provided vacationers with all the atmosphere you’d expect on a luxurious getaway, yet all without the need to sail too far from home. And, with the buying prices still high, renting a boat has became a much more affordable way of getting the on-board experience if your wallet doesn’t quite stretch to investing in your own premium super-yacht yet.

The yacht industry is thriving because it has found itself a new type of client this year – the middle-income family who have saved money by not flying abroad and can afford to spend it on a yacht instead

Popular destinations within Europe for yachting include Italy, the South of France and Greece. Whether you opt to yacht charter in Greece or another picturesque location closer to home, renting includes a wide range of options to suit all needs and budgets, and from pools and jacuzzis to opulent spas on board, not to mention the silver service dining, there’s no need to compromise on luxury.

There’s no denying that the pandemic has forced people to be more creative with how they spend their time – and to think outside the box when it comes to squeezing in those much-needed holidays. Rather than falling into the tried and tested routine of booking a five-star hotel and spending your days wandering around all the same sights and attractions as others, renting a yacht offers a chance to try something different and enjoy a truly elevated experience – after all, when it comes to exclusivity, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Yachts have always been viewed as an extravagance, and a facility only suited to the very rich. But the increase in enquiries for yacht rentals is indicative of a shift in viewpoint. The yacht industry is thriving because it has found itself a new type of client this year – the middle-income family who have saved money by not flying abroad and can afford to spend it on a yacht instead.

Nonetheless, if only the finest will do for you and money remains no object, then you’ll still find the level of exclusivity you desire with a superyacht. So, if you’re looking to plan an extravagant getaway for 2021 that has little risk of being cancelled, then look no further.

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Popular yachting destinations within Europe for yachting include Italy, the South of France and Greece. Image credit: kateafter/Bigstock.com

It’s not just this year that the yachting industry has experienced a boost, however – and as many globe-trotters become more conscious of their carbon footprint and look for new and more sustainable ways to travel, it’s little wonder that water-based getaways are falling more and more into favour.

More environmentally conscious millennials and Generation Y customers, in particular, are swapping their air miles for a more eco-friendly way of travel. The maritime industry has been working hard at reducing emissions in recent years and has been rewarded by an uptake of services, with this new and younger audience first in the queue.

There are many benefits to taking a super yacht charter besides this, too – with yacht travel allowing guests to visit places which are more off the beaten track with ease. The trend for holidays over the past few years has definitely been moving more towards adventurous, exploratory-style travel, especially amongst younger people – and the yachting industry has found away to tick all of the right boxes.

With cruises grounded and air travel still looking shaky as we head towards 2021, the yachting industry is poised to fill the holiday void. Every area, from manufacture and rental to insurance and licensing, has seen an upturn in profits this year, making it one of the few industries to flourish under the current climate – so will you be jumping on board next year?