HK should refloat yachting industry

Updated: 2013-04-26 06:18

By Eddy Li(HK Edition)

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HK should refloat yachting industry

I recently paid a visit to three places on the mainland, including Xunliao Bay in the east of Huizhou, Nansha in Guangzhou, and Sanya in Hainan province, and discovered that the local governments of these three shoreline places are all ready to develop the yachting industry in a vigorous manner in their economic development plans. Besides, Tianjin, Shanghai and Qingdao are also expanding their yachting businesses, reflecting the fact the yachting industry is in the ascendance on the mainland.

The above-mentioned places are all coastal cities or areas, with charming scenery. I think Sanya is the most superior place in regard to its condition and potential for developing the industry: the weather is delightful in all seasons; it's characterized as a place of blue oceans and white sands; the maritime environment is calm and tranquil and is suitable for yachts to berth at; compared with Tianjin, Shanghai and Qingdao, which are more northern, Sanya's government wouldn't need to worry about the influences of snow and freezing water. What's more, the national policy clearly states that Hainan province is to be built into an international tourism resort, with the support of related policies. Sanya has the privilege of getting double results by doing only half the work.

As a matter of fact, when it comes to the development of yachting, Hong Kong was richly endowed by nature and is earlier than the above-mentioned places to adopt the industry. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, which grew out of the 1849-founded Victoria Regatta Club, was established in the year of 1893 - namely, 120 years ago. At present, although there are more than a dozen yacht clubs and more than 20,000 yachts in Hong Kong, in the last decade, there has been little progress in the industry's development. The most serious problem is that for so many years there has been zero growth in berths for yachts, leading to the phenomenon of too many yachts for too few berths.

Some might ask why the industry has remained stagnant in Hong Kong. I would posit three main reasons: First, there is no full-time specific department to promote the industry, and henceforth, developers have no idea who they should consult or where to apply; Second, the government worries that the act of promoting yachting would cause the public to accuse it of "serving only the rich" or collusion; Three, it's possible it would not be welcomed by environmental protection groups.

But if we consider it from another perspective, developing the yacht industry, in fact, helps with the advancement of the city's image, brings economic benefits to the whole society and increases employment opportunities, which must make it worthwhile.

Surrounded by seas and with Victoria Harbor's splendid views, Hong Kong has every reason to be the yachting epicenter of Asia, or even the world. Despite the fact the city still leads the pack over the mainland's yachting harbors, if Hong Kong stays at a standstill while the peripheral areas energetically move forward, it's only a matter of time before Hong Kong falls behind others.

I honestly hope that the government will make efforts to revive the yachting industry. It has been suggested that authorities should set up some open-type berths for yachts along Victoria Harbor, which not only catch the eyes of tourists, but would also make the harbor more dynamic. In addition to that, the sideward bay of the cruise terminal in Kowloon East could also be taken into consideration as a yacht berth.

The author is the vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong.

HK should refloat yachting industry

(HK Edition 04/26/2013 page1)