Italy yacht sector gets $27m boost
Italy's hard-hit yachting industry received a boost on Friday with confirmation from economic development minister Claudio Scajola that it will receive ?20m ($27m) in a package of incentives due to be signed into law shortly by the council of ministers.
The ministry said that the ?420m aid package will include ?20m to support the yachtbuilding sector ?an important part of the Made in Italy phenomenon, which last year saw revenues fall 35%?.
Specifically, the funds will go to subsidise the purchase of outboard motors and to the development of worker-safe moulds for yacht hulls.
Though the funds on the table are hardly excessive, they have been eagerly awaited by a sector that has been badly hurt by the economic crisis and is hoping that they will help release pent-up demand.
Yachting industry association Ucina estimates that 35% of the total workforce has been temporarily laid off as orders have dried up and the market has been flooded with surplus yachts over the last 18 months. The market for large yachts has been particularly savaged.
Lorenzo Pollicardo, a former secretary general of Ucina who organised last week"s Venice Yacht Show, said the incentives would impact the small-boat sector in particular, adding that this segment was the likeliest engine of a market recovery that is still only stuttering into life.
He cited a newly completed report by the Research & Intelligence unit of BMps, which forsees annual average growth of 5% for the Italian yacht market in the 2010-2012 period. At the same time, he said Italy must improve its relationship with the yachting community, particularly by providing adequate berthing and other port services to yacht owners.
Mr Pollicardo added that Venice saw significant opportunities in yachting as part of its broader effort to reestablish the city as a maritime hub for the Adriatic across the spectrum of cargo and passenger businesses. The city was now looking to expand its berthing capacity for large yachts, within the contraints of a highly sensitive ecosystem.
He said a recent sharp reduction in Croatia"s luxury tax on yachts should also provide a boost for the business in the region, adding that the the Mediterranean was already the world"s most vibrant yachting market, accounting for 71% of all large yacht charters.
As for the market for yachts in excess of 30 m, Mr Pollicardo cited Yacht Report figures to the effect that there are currently 495 yachts in the global order portfolio with an average length of 46.6 m. Some 112 orders came in last year, down sharply on the 241 orders registered in 2008.
Deliveries, meanwhile, have been falling steadily since 2006. Last year, Italian builders accounted for a 37% share of the order book for yachts over 30m in length, while the US was in second place with 17% and Holland third with 14%.
In 2010, though Italy still leads with 31%, the UK industry marked its progress in big-boat construction by leaping into second spot with 22% and Turkey, another rising power, had 14%. The US came in fourth with 12%, while Holland slipped to fifth with just 6%.
In terms of new orders, Italy registered 37% of the total, the US 15% and Holland 11%, while Turkey landed 9% and the UK 5%. Mr Pollicardo added that, as of the end of last year, the world fleet ran to 4,359 yachts greater than 30m in length, up from 2,207 a decade ago.