BY Maria Carrillo on 24 Jan 2023

More steps are needed to better facilitate yacht owners and to better showcase boating to the public, says Maria Carrillo

Having been in the marine industry in Hong Kong for over 30 years, I’ve noticed many changes. There are some things I’d like to address that could be better.

There have been some improvements in the increased number of people entering the industry. Some dealerships and brokers have become more professional, but at the same time, there have been new independent brokers in the market that don’t have a background as dealers and who are not familiar with the background information of our marine industry. I would, therefore, like to urge potential buyers to directly approach the licensed or appointed dealers or agents of the brand they desire to purchase, for their own safety.

At the beginning of the pandemic, all aviation stopped and people had nowhere to go. Eventually, they had time to learn about boating from friends. After experiences on the water, many wanted to take up and develop a new interest themselves, some purchasing a pleasure craft. Eventually, this led to second-hand motor- or sailing boats selling out locally. With only 10 marinas in Hong Kong, which are now fully occupied, this locality desperately needs more in order to accommodate present and future needs.

This shortage of marinas has been a problem for years in Hong Kong but has been highlighted more recently due to the increase in new owners. Government departments have been saying they will address it for some time; I hope that the new administration under Chief Executive John Lee will make progress in this area.

I hope the government understands that every pleasure craft in Hong Kong can create employment opportunities. For example, a 60- or 100-footer [18.2 to 30.5m] might need three to eight crew, including a captain, who can put food on the table for three to eight families. Furthermore, it can bring business to shipyards, marine- related shops – selling fenders, rope and the like, and insurance and surveying companies, which all stand to benefit.

Of course, there are environmental concerns, and Hong Kong is a small place – but if 10 marinas were allowed to operate, after assessments by the Environmental Protection Department years ago, why can’t other locations be found?

Club Marina Cove in Sai Kung

Club Marina Cove in Sai Kung

I’m so glad the Hong Kong Boating Industry Association [HKBIA] got up and running a few years ago, and I hope that under its head, Lawrence Chow, it may be able to improve the boating situation locally. He has been trying to find a venue and a way to organise a boat show in Hong Kong for some time. I’ve discussed this with him, and I know he and those involved in a potential show were considering marina venue possibilities in different outlying parts of Hong Kong and sites in Kwun Tong [Kowloon].

As far as I know, Mr Chow has already contacted certain government departments for support, but the pandemic has slowed progress. Let’s all hope the HKBIA makes an announcement by the end of this year or early next year about Hong Kong hosting a boat show. I think it is very important to have such an event because it can assist local boat dealers or marine-related companies to introduce their products – and to sell them.

Finally, I would like to encourage brokers to bring in more new brands. It would be great to see boats in different sizes with different designs, and more equipment for certain water sports. With these, it would create even more interest whenever a boat show might be held in Hong Kong.

About the Author

Maria Carrillo, assistant manager at Club Marina Cove in Sai Kung in the northeast New Territories in Hong Kong, is now approaching her 33rd year with this establishment.

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