Full speed ahead for marina's development
Xiamen is poised to become home to one of China's most dynamic marinas, joining Qingdao and Sanya in the growing yacht and luxury boating industry. Manufacturers and brokers from around the world are setting up operations to take advantage of a new market, and the Chinese themselves are moving quickly to capitalise as well.
Xiamen has poured billions of dollars into the development of the Wuyuan Bay Marina, a massive endeavour that combines business services, yacht culture and tourism. The marina will include berths for 600 boats, house a yacht club and business centre, and host exhibitions and regattas. One of the most important elements of the marina is southern China's first bonded warehouse. It provides storage, sales and services for buyers and sellers of luxury yachts but, more importantly, allows them to conduct business directly without having to first pay prohibitive taxes.
'The bonded warehouse in Xiamen is an absolute necessity,' says Gulu Lalvani, owner of Asia's most prestigious marina, the Royal Phuket in Thailand. 'Without such a warehouse, the manufacturer and importer must pay a 44 per cent duty. The bonded warehouse eliminates that hurdle and is an important step towards a modern and flourishing luxury boat industry.'
Xiamen, situated on an island just a few kilometres from Taiwan, is considered one of China's most beautiful coastal cities. Xiamen hosts the China Cup - China's only domestic regatta, a race that crosses the strait to Taiwan. The regatta, inaugurated in 2007, annually attracts 60 boats and is a major selling point for Asian players in the yacht and marina industry to set up operations in Xiamen. The co-operation with Taiwan may also unlock tremendous potential in the future.
'We believe that in the near future it will be possible for yacht owners to sail to Taiwan,' says Cai Zhibin, general manager of Xiamen Road and Bridge Development Company, and vice-president of the Xiamen Yacht Industry Association.
'It faces some issues, including the yacht driving licence and yacht certification,' Cai says. 'Xiamen is one of China's most livable cities. We are a major business centre in southern China and the region enjoys a mild and enjoyable climate. More and more exhibitions are held here every year and the government strongly supports the development of the yachting industry.'