Charter forecast: New destinations on the rise for the winter season
by Sophia Wilson
Transformative travel has been the buzz word for the luxury travel industry this year and this trend is also expected to impact the superyacht charter market. “There are always clients looking to move away from the traditional winter destination of the Caribbean and explore new places,” says YPI’s charter director Annemarie Gathercole.
The devastating impact of hurricanes Irma, Maria and Jose in the Caribbean last year saw some clients forced to look to new destinations but brokers are quick to point out that this is not the main factor for change. “Aside from whether or not we are witnessing any lasting hurricane effects, there are always those clients seeking more “experiential-led” charters in locations such Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Belize), Middle East (UAE, Oman is becoming a new charter destination) and the Pacific side such as the Cortez Sea and Galapagos,” says Burgess charter broker Sophie Holmes.
With this in mind here are some of the destinations the charter industry is expecting to see in increased demand this winter season...
Following on from a bumper season last winter Ocean Independence’s Daphne d’Offay is predicting that the Grenadines and Windward Islands will remain popular. “I believe that the new exposure that the Grenadines and Windward Islands got last season, since they were not affected by the hurricanes and many yachts repositioned there for charters, will prove that this is becoming a better known region of interest now,” she says.
IYC’s sales and charter consultant Barbara Stork Landeweer has also seen increased interest in the island chain. “After the hurricane damage to the Virgin Island and Leeward Islands last year I did see a big increase in charters in the Grenadines, which has a lot to offer.”
Worth Avenue’s Graham Sullivan also saw the Grenadines increase last year but thinks that loyal visitors will return to old favourites this winter. “I believe that returning to the BVI’s and Leeward Islands is a must this upcoming season,” he adds.
As well as St Lucia and the Grenadines, the Bahamas also benefitted from yachts repositioning after the hurricane damage last year. “I think charter clients are becoming more aware of the Bahamas and that even in winter, although not quite as warm as the rest of the Caribbean, the weather in the Bahamas is still mild and very pleasant,” says Fraser charter broker Debra Blackburn.
Easily accessible for US clients, Central America is also expected to see increased demand this winter. “It is definitely on the rise,” says Michaela Beitz-Biggi , Edmiston’s head of yacht charter management. “Many brokers have clients interested in the Sea of Cortez and Costa Rica. These areas offer great diving options and more adventure."
The Sea of Cortez is also a favourite location for Brian O’Sullivan, the owner of 40 metre Komokwa who has decided to base his yacht in Cabo and put her up for charter.
The temptation might be to always turn right after the Mediterranean season but an increasing number of clients are tempted to head east instead. “Chartering in Asian destinations, such as Indonesia, is increasing in popularity,” says Camper & Nicholsons’ charter marketing manager Lies Sol. “Over Christmas and New Year, all our yachts are just about fully booked." “At YPI we find that Maldives, Seychelles, and South-east Asia – Indonesia and Thailand – are increasingly popular destinations,” agrees Gathercole.
However, as with all more adventurous destinations a strong charterfleet can influence demand. “The Maldives and Seychelles are both still popular and I know charter brokers are often looking for high quality yachts in that part of the world,” says Beitz-Biggi. “The variety of destinations on offer are ever expanding in the yachting industry but many enquiries are also driven by the selection of yachts available in the specific areas,” adds Holmes.