Yesterday, a client texted us from his 170 foot Feadship yacht charter vessel. "@ anchor next 2 yacht Eclipse & Larry Ellison motor yacht Rising Sun…no 1 else here!"
Normally, with less than a week before New Year’s Eve, the quay at Port du Gustavia is already packed with yachts, stern-to and packed like sardines, side-by-side. The annual St Barts yacht charter scene is the place to be, as A-list celebrities and corporate CEO’s spend the week yacht-hopping and partying.
So far this week, the big names – and big boats – have not arrived.
A recent yachting industry report ads credence to the first-hand observations in St Barts. The annual Superyachting Index analyses the global luxury yacht industry. The Index has three sections (new construction, brokerage, and charter) and covers yachts 80 feet and larger.
According to Jana Sheeder, President of SailAway Yacht Charters, "A lack of demand continues to put downward pressure on charter rates. A weak global economy coupled with a significant increase in the number of available yachts for hire means more yachts are competing for charter business. Add to this a host of other heavily-discounted vacation options, such as upscale villa and resort ski packages, and the number of clients electing to go boating has dwindled to 2006 recession levels."
The Index supports Sheeder’s assertions. The size of the yacht charter industry grew more than 23 percent in 2010. As of 2009, there were about 850 yachts available for charter. In 2010, the number of yachts available rose to 1,049.
This trend is especially evident in the category of yachts from 30 to 50 meters (about 100 to 165 feet). There was a 28 per cent increase in the number of these yachts on the charter market in 2010. Consequently, the same market segment saw a reduction of 10.7 per cent in weekly base rates.
In addition, the overall number of charter weeks sold worldwide in 2010 decreased by 9 percent from those of 2009. That means that in addition to increased competition, there were fewer clients booking.
All luxury travel companies are looking forward to a healthier economy.
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