Boat sales buoyant in Shanghai despite luxury taxes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am

Undeterred by a new tax on luxury goods - and price tags of up to 15 million yuan - visitors to Shanghai's boat show snapped up nearly all 50 vessels on display at the four-day event.

Buyers at the show, which ended on Sunday, were mainly business executives from Zhejiang province , the mainland's cradle of private enterprise and a prime target for the foreign companies selling status symbols to the rich.

Liu Jiangshan, chief executive officer of British boat-builder Sunseeker, said his company had invited more than 100 potential buyers to the exhibition, most of them businessmen from the neighbouring province.

The central government's new surcharge on luxury goods is an attempt to 'guide' consumption away from items such as yachts, golf equipment and watches.

Nevertheless, attendance at the event, the 11th China International Boat Show, was up 30 per cent from last year, attracting 21,000 visitors and 320 exhibitors.

Besides the boat-builders, the exhibition included a section 'associated with the yachting lifestyle' that included aircraft manufacturers Gulfstream and Cessna and hi-fi equipment maker Bang & Olufsen.

A Zhejiang property developer was quoted by Xinhua as saying that he had previously attended parties organised by foreign yacht clubs, but this time he had realised his dream of buying his own vessel. He plans to use it to entertain clients.

Last autumn, Shanghai opened its first private yacht club with support from the local government to issue licences and build docks. The city sees yachting as a driving force for the tourism industry.

Although the city's boat industry is starting from scratch - there is only a temporary dock for yachts on the Huangpu River - maritime officials say more facilities and related regulations are being planned.