New initiatives and on-going challenges facing the Australian superyacht industry were key subjects highlighted in the first day of ASMEX 2018 –  the Australian Superyacht, Marine Export and Commercial Marine Industry Conference entitled “Changing the Game down under – Australia has it all”.

This, now crucial annual event in the Australian marine industry calendar, was held at the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort on May 22-23, 2018.

Its comprehensive program provides updates on the work of AIMEX- the Australian International Marine Export Group, Superyacht Australia and the Australian Commercial Marine Group (ACMG).

The first day’s program provided a full spread of subjects and addressing key issues to the future of Australia’s expanding marine sector. Apart from the very topical superyacht sector there was input on the export and commercial performance of the marine sector; its future prospects and opportunities, and options to attract more yachts to Australia.

There were discussions regarding the opportunities and platforms for Australia to encourage more yachts to visit, not only for cruising but also to make use of the country’s well-developed yachting marina and refit infrastructure. From these sessions, several opportunities were identified; actions called for, and information provided. They included:

  • The continuing need to educate superyacht owners and captains about what Australia has to offer. Tourism Australia is now working with Superyacht Australia and holding promotional/marketing events at such as the Monaco Yacht Show, Fort Lauderdale Boat Show and others were suggested.
  • With several superyacht owners and captains planning their future voyages over the next few years including possibly visiting the America’s Cup races, the need for promotion to attract these yachts to also come to Australia needs to be done as soon as possible.
  • The upcoming launch of the latest Great Southern Route from Ocean Media was seen as key tool in communicating with yacht owners, captains and crew and building awareness.
  • More Australian owners were said to be interested buying larger yachts
  • A need for more infrastructure especially for very large superyachts was identified and mention was made of superyacht berths in central city locations such as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
  • In terms of the America’s Cup, which is being a held in New Zealand in 2021, there was discussion of how Australia could boost promotion to attract yachts to Australia and key events were being investigated.

A very visual presentation was given by Italian professional photographer, Andrea Francolini. Much of his work is related to sailing and superyacht photography and he emphasised the importance of the unusual image or angle. Copyright issues were an area of concern along with the conditions of image usage and this point was of interest to delegates.

An informative and entertaining presentation encompassing yachts, lifestyle, corporate actions and personalities was made by Kiran Haslam, the Marketing Director of Princess Yachts in the UK.

The need for statistics is often mentioned in the marine market and this was covered by a presentation on the KPMG Civil Marine Sector undertaken in 2017. This study looked specifically at the Australia’s marine industry capability; industry strengths and weaknesses and its contribution to the country’s GDP. This included apprenticeships, the range of occupations and the products and customer mix. Industry linkages were also examined, and its future challenges and opportunities listed.

An interview with industry leader, Wes Moxey, the CEO of Riviera, completed the first day’s program which was MC’d by Martin Redmayne, Chairman of the Superyacht Group. This gave an inspirational insight into Wes’ history starting with a boat building apprenticeship and his various experiences working with Riviera and views of his private equity ownership. He also covered the Belize brand and building these vessels in Taiwan. For many this interview was a stand out with Wes sharing his views on management, training and his view on the future direction of his business.

A new feature for ASMEX 2018 was a group of three breakout sessions addressing specific challenges in superyachts, marine industry export performance and the commercial marine sector.

Superyachts – The content on this important area of the Australian marine sector is covered in a separate release.

Marine Industry Exports – Three speakers dealt with the following areas.

1) Michael Taylor, Trade & Investment Advisor, Marine & Defence, Austrade explained some key pointers regarding exporting:

  • Trade & Investment functions now combined and Austrade also drives tourism policy.
  • Austrade welcomed and encouraged foreign investment because of benefits to the economy
  • With 121 offices; 600 people around the world, Austrade can provide advice and support.
  • Main markets of interest for commercial marine sector – Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, India, China.
  • 10 FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) in place and there are more agreed but not in place. Eight more under negotiation. DFAT has a FTA portal that provides information on all product groups.
  • EMDG (Export Market Development Grant) scheme is administered by Austrade. It reimburses some marketing expenses for a specific period.
  • Austrade and AIMEX will work together to align thinking and provide market solutions.

2) Liana Heath – Asialink Business

  • Asialink is Australia’s leading centre for building Asian capability which includes China practice, research, capability development and managing the cultural challenge.
  • China is number 3 in the world for Ultra High Net Worth Individual
  • WeChat is the critical Chinese social media network. You need to be on it.

3) Alistair Murray, Ronstan, Chairman – He presented “Lessons learnt in a Life of Export” which included a history of Ronstan; the benefits of exporting, its challenges, advice for new exporters and the importance of culture.

Australian Commercial Marine Group – Delegates heard from fellow ACMG members Mike Deeks CSC MD of Forgacs Marine and Defence, Peter Besseling GM of Birdon and Detlef Schlichting, Sales Director of Lürssen sharing details of their successful project strategies.

  • Birdon spoke of its ongoing success in winning Defence contracts, including the innovative design and tendering strategy to win the order to build 374 bridge erection boats for the US Army.
  • Mike Deeks presented an overview into the complexities involved in designing and building Australia’s largest ship building hall now under construction at Henderson in Western Australia. He also provided an update on plans to supply the steel for 10 new Offshore Patrol Vessels.
  • Detlef Schlichting detailed how Luerssen Australia successfully undertook the challenge to compete for the SEA1180. Luerssen will be involved in all 12 OPV vessels.

Delegates agreed that ASMEX 2018 was a very successful event, in particular, in its enhanced connectivity with Federal and State government departments and the government representatives expressed willingness to work with the marine industry across the sectors which AIMEX, Superyacht Australia and the Australian Commercial Marine Group deal with.