Changing travel trends contributing to marine tourism growth as visitors seek out more individual experiences
PATTAYA, Thailand – Thailand's east coast has seen steady growth in the boating sector in recent years, bolstered by domestic interest in chartering and buying sailing yachts and motor craft, and supported by the region's key consumer event, the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show, which is set to take place for the seventh time from 29 November to 2 December, 2018 at the award-winning Ocean Marina Yacht Club.
The increased number of people going out on the water is borne out in Ocean Marina Yacht Club's own research which shows a staggering 730% increase in the number of day trippers departing Ocean Marina Yacht Club between 2010 and 2017, and in Q1 2018 alone, this figure grew by 66% when compared to the same period in the previous year.
Join in boat trips range from 2,000THB/ person for a fully inclusive day experience while private charters range from 25,000THB for a half day upto 700,000THB to charter a superyacht for the day. The most popular private charters departing Ocean Marina Yacht Club are in the range of 50,000THB - 100,000THB per day.
This growth of join in and private charters on the east coast is being driven in large part by Thais with Millennials and Gen X together making up 60% of Thais experiencing boating today, with weekends being the most popular time to go out on the water.
“The increase in day trips and boat charters on the east coast has naturally led to more conversions into boat ownership. In terms of nationality, Thais are now the third largest enjoying day trips and charter, while we have certainly seen Thais outpacing other nationalities in boat ownership over the last few years,” said Mr. Scott Finsten, Harbour Master of Ocean Marina Yacht Club, organisers of the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show.
“Since the first Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show in 2012, private boat ownership in the marina has grown by 15% and this is largely thanks to interest from the local market. More than 45% of all boats in our marina are Thai-owned, which is a healthy indicator of steady growth in marine tourism in this part of Thailand. We also see strong domestic interest in boating at the Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show where 70% of visitors last year were Thai nationals.”
On the back of charter growth and increased boat purchases, Ocean Marina Yacht Club completed major expansion works in August 2018 which increased the number of berths by 15% to 455, retaining its position as the largest marina in South East Asia.
“There is a clear trend of more Thai people taking an interest in boating. This may start by joining a day trip or chartering a boat, but can lead onto boat ownership. Over recent years at Boat Lagoon Yachting we have seen a significant interest in boat purchase by Thais as they become more aware and knowledgeable about the boating lifestyle, and we expect this trend to continue,” said Mr. Vrit Yongsakul, Managing Director of Boat Lagoon Yachting.
Travel trends have also contributed to a growth in marine tourism as visitors seek out more individual experiences. The top five international visitors to Pattaya are China, Russia, Korea, India and Germany, and according to the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2017/18, Millennials comprise 60% of all Chinese travelling overseas. Millennials are looking for new travel experiences, to enjoy something off-the-beaten-path and boating on the East Coast has become popular with this segment.
In addition, changes to customs rules in 2016 has helped make Thailand more attractive to international visiting yachts, further contributing to overall growth in water-based activities in coastal destinations. This, together with the growth in Millennial travel, increased domestic interest in boating, the “Thailand Riviera” project and Eastern Economic Corridor – which has seen 45 Billion Baht of investment pledged by the Thai government – are expected to further the appeal of Thailand's East Coast for both business and leisure.
The 7th Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show takes place 29th November to 2nd December at South East Asia's largest marina, Ocean Marina Yacht Club in Pattaya. Entry is free.