Yachting in Vanuatu
Changes to Vanuatu’s Immigration legislation in 2010 seems to have had a significant and detrimental effect on yacht tourism with a major decrease in yacht visitors since 2010. Nearly 600 yachts visited in 2010, but this number reduced to 312 in 2014. According to the Customs Border Control agent in Port Vila and the three Yacht Servicing Agents, Vanuatu will receive about 120 yachts in 2019, including about 30 superyachts. This is down by around 80% from the 600 that arrived in 2010. From the stakeholder interviews and literature research undertaken for this cruise strategy and from a report written by a Yachting Tourism Consultant to Vanuatu (Eric Simmons, July 2015) there are four main issues that negatively impact on the growth of the yachting segment in Vanuatu:
- Very high entrance fees which include separate fee payments to immigration, biosecurity and ports (mooring and anchorage fees are extra) making them the highest of all the Pacific Islands, 95% more than Fiji and 100% more than New Caledonia and Samoa, neither of whom charge any yachting fees.
- Vanuatu only grants a one month visa to each yacht visitor otherwise extra charges arencluding Vanuatu, between the USA, South America an applied for any extensions. This restricts each yacht from cruising around the islands of Vanuatu. By contrast New Caledonia offers an immediate 3 month visa and Fiji offers a 4 month visa.
- Yachties have been generally perceived as a low budget market, spending little in a destination and as polluters of the ocean. Recent studies in Fiji refute both of these myths. The yacht market is segmented into three main sectors – single sailing/cruising yachts; superyachts (up market larger motorized ocean cruisers, carrying up to 25 pax) and charter operations (day tours or fly in visitors who hire yachts for pleasure sailing in a destination). All of these sectors have recorded high expenditure patterns in Fiji, particularly if services are provided in a protected marina.
- More recent negative publicity about yachts being involved in illicit drug running through Pacific island routes, id Australia/NZ. It seems that charging higher entrance fees does not deter such illegal activities.
Characteristics of Yachts
- A specialised market segment involving yachting for pleasure, adventure, lifestyle or recreational purposes.
- Includes sailing by private yachts (1 to 5 pax), including superyachts (up to 25 pax), or chartered yachts at the destination (skippered or bareboat) for cruising holidays.
- There are also organized Yacht Rally’s and Races where a flotilla of yachts (20 to 50 yachts with 3 to 10 crew each) sail between island countries (e.g. Down Under Rally linking Vanuatu to New Caledonia, Fiji, Australia and NZ)