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Booking up: The charter forecast for 2018

Booking up: The charter forecast for 2018

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Christophe Harbour
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Irma impact

Despite positivity about the market, especially in the Mediterranean, last year’s hurricane season had a profound impact on the Caribbean. “After a successful summer, winter saw a decline in charters booked in the Caribbean due to the destructive impact of hurricanes Irma and Jose on the islands of St Martin, the BVIs and St Barths,” says YPI’s charter director Annemarie Gathercole. “Although St Barths, a hugely popular island, has rallied and rapidly picked itself up, with many restaurants and beach bars reopened, it’s clear that clients were put off going there. This was demonstrated by the unusually high number of charter yachts advertising last-minute Christmas and New Year deals.”

While numbers were down there was also a huge amount of support from within the yachting community. “We were overwhelmed with the positive stance from owners deciding to position their yachts in the Caribbean to support and help rebuild the islands in need,” says Burgess charter broker Chris Gregory. “There was definitely a feeling of support for the region from captains, owners and clients,” adds Manoukian.

Traditional Caribbean hotspots did suffer but this meant alternative destinations were given a chance to shine. “There were more charter bookings — perhaps more than ever — for the Windward Islands, particularly from Grenada to St Lucia. This presented a great opportunity for clients to explore areas they might not have been to before; owners were willing to offer great incentives for guests to do so,” says Cichanowicz.

Additionally, the latter end of 2017 saw an increase in last-minute bookings as a result of uncertainty around the Caribbean. "While the hurricanes definitely had an impact on the winter charter season, I think the biggest thing we noticed was the timing of the inquiries," says Moran charter manager Sean Zamora. "The bulk of our inquiries this year were very last minute, however we were able to secure charters for clients."

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