Thailand’s boat present saga – aches and pains for Phuket’s yachting trade

“The country’s leisure yachting businesses could face one more spherical of ‘too many boat shows’ once the Covid disruptor has handed into relative insignificance.”
It’s exhausting to think about something as easy as a boat present inflicting infinite controversy – but that has been the case nearly since Thailand’s first show, Phuket International Marine Expo (PIMEX), held in 2003 at the Phuket Boat Lagoon (PBL).
The brainchild of Image Asia MD, Grenville Fordham, and his enterprise partner Andy Dowden, the thought of a ship show in Phuket initially attracted doubters in droves… “They’ve got no experience” and “It would be risky giving them deposits” have been just two of the anti-show cries heard from business naysayers.
But built on the rising dissatisfaction expressed by returning Boat Asia (Singapore) exhibitors, the concept gathered momentum and supporters. Small by worldwide standards and exclusively beneath canvas onshore, with not a great many boats within the water, Thailand’s first-ever boat present was, nonetheless, hailed as a hit by domestic and international exhibitors.
The timing was crucial; the next 12 months, business efforts to scale back taxation on imported boats had been wildly profitable; the 200+ % levies previously utilized had been decreased to just 7% VAT, heralding the real beginning of the exponential development of Thailand’s (and significantly Phuket’s) leisure yachting trade – and on the same time making certain that boat reveals in Phuket had sturdy future potential.
Thus, PIMEX ran smoothly at PBL, underneath the Image Asia banner, in December yearly till 2006 with an unchanged format, and with gradually rising numbers, selection and high quality of exhibitors. Then, in 2007, possession of the show handed to Andy Dowden’s Andaman Marine Consultants (AMC) and it relocated to Royal Phuket Marina (RPM), not beneath canvas.
Visitor numbers, nevertheless, remained pretty static at somewhere between three,000 and 4,000, as it turned clear that attracting giant numbers of overseas guests to a show in Phuket was, perhaps, a problem too far. It would show to be a recurring theme.
Nevertheless, following international media exposure of PIMEX 2007, the expanding Informa Yacht Group (IYG) acquired ownership of the show, retaining AMC to run issues on the ground. PIMEX 2008 went forward, nonetheless in December and nonetheless at RPM.
Under the IYG umbrella, great new things when it comes to advertising were promised – with consequential enhancements in quantity and high quality of tourists – however with no substantial progress in either, albeit with a glossier, more skilled, presentation.
Around this time, industry voices clamouring for different dates reached fever pitch and a change from December to January was agreed. With no show in 2009, PIMEX 2010 and 2011 have been staged in January with a claimed 25 % increase in exhibitors, but still finding it difficult to rise above the customary three,000 to 4,000 visitors.
Responding to opposite exhibitor claims that January was not, in any case, one of the best time to run the present, the following 4 years noticed PIMEX swing backwards and forwards between January and March, the organisers doing their greatest to please everyone.
Then, suddenly in or around 2015, Informa determined to exit the boat show business. PIMEX possession reverted to AMC and PIMEX 2016 went forward as usual in January at RPM, however under the looming shadow of a brand new – and aggressive – present, the next month.
The inaugural Thailand Yacht Show (TYS), held in February 2016 at Phuket’s Ao Po Grand Marina, was the brainchild of former IYG mover and shaker Andy Treadwell and appeared set to drive PIMEX out of business. For the native trade, nonetheless, this was an unwelcome transfer. It meant both doubling their annual Phuket boat present spend or making a troublesome choice between a identified entity and the newer, evidently glossier, alternative.
The TYS ‘claim to fame’ was massive government support and a key factor of its advertising platform targeted on the temptingly profitable superyacht sector.
For the first time, the strident trade name, “Does Thailand want another boat show?” resonated round Phuket’s marinas. The prevailing opinion was resoundingly that Phuket, actually, did not need two boat reveals. But it had them.
PIMEX 2017 went forward at RPM in January and was followed once more, this time at a extra respectable interval, by the second TYS in December. Come January 2018, we find Andy Dowden’s AMC teaming up with Olivier and Gael Burlot, organisers of the Singapore Rendezvous, to current the all-new Phuket Rendezvous 2018 at RPM, which was like its predecessor, PIMEX, but with a touch extra pizzazz.
Not to be outdone, TYS 2018 went back to its authentic killer timing, closely following the Rendezvous in February, once more at Ao Po Grand Marina.
Something clearly had to give. Phuket now had three separate entities organising two completely different boat exhibits three years in a row, stretching each the budgets and the persistence of Phuket’s leading yacht brokers, amongst others. And one thing was carried out.
An unlikely partnership between Andy Treadwell and the Burlot brothers – who had been doing battle in Singapore with the former’s Singapore Yacht Show and the latter’s Singapore Rendezvous – conceived the Thailand Yacht Show & Rendezvous 2019, held at RPM. This brought to an end the brokers’ nightmare of two competing boat shows on this small vacation island, whereas virtually incidentally bringing to an end Thailand’s original boat present, PIMEX.
The concord, however, was brief lived. The following 12 months noticed Andy Treadwell, via his new organising firm Verventia, win the battle of the boat exhibits and stage, with out visible partners, the TYS 2020 at RPM. Everyone breathed an enormous sigh of aid that there was, as quickly as again, only one Phuket boat show in the island’s best suited venue.
Then Covid-19 changed every little thing. Big was, unsurprisingly, cancelled together with Verventia’s extra mature Singapore Yacht Show. Uncertainty reigned and a boat show void appeared, no much less than in the understanding of the newest entrant in Phuket’s boat show battles.
Believing (based – we understand – on discussions with various involved parties) that TYS was not going to happen once more, in mid-2021 David Hayes, CEO of occasion organisers JAND Group, launched the inaugural Thailand International Boat Show (TIBS), to be held in January 2022 at RPM. Unfortunately for JAND, a combination of Covid uncertainty and the renewed spectre of two Phuket boat reveals resulted within the postponement of TIBS till January 2023.
In Fill in the blanks , TYS has introduced a new partnership with Ocean Marina to run the Thailand Yacht Show – Pattaya in April 2022 and has plans to run the Phuket model of TYS throughout 2022 on a date and at a venue yet to be confirmed.
Taking a step back, in the course of the virtually 20 years of boat exhibits, Phuket has not had issues all its own method. Pattaya’s Ocean Marina staged its personal boat show – Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show (OMPBS) for eight years from 2012 to 2019, attracting for the most half locally based exhibitors, with some from Phuket and other elements of Thailand including to the mix. The last OMPBS was held pre-Covid in November 2019.
Other tentative forays into Thailand’s troublesome boat present business have included Singapore’s Boat Asia, which staged a one-off ‘Boat Thai’ at a major Bangkok exhibition centre. More lately, a show-within-a-show was staged – ‘Join Boat Platform’ – at Bangkok’s Motor Expo in 2020 and 2021. This new event attracted a sprinkling of trailer boats, water toys and a few of the greater boat brokers, all hoping to sort out efficiently the massive, so far untapped, potential of the Thai marketplace for leisure boating.
Where to from here? It would take a far more correct and sturdy crystal ball than this writer’s to foretell Thailand’s boat show future. But if history is anything to go by, plainly the country’s leisure yachting businesses may face yet another round of ‘too many boat shows’ once the Covid disruptor has handed into relative insignificance. The solely constant and predictable component of every Phuket boat present past, and possibly future, is that tough to budge visitor count. Hail to she or he who can get 10,000 high quality visitors via the gate!
Paul Poole is the founder, managing director and chairman of Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd., an unbiased advertising consultancy primarily based in Bangkok, Thailand. The company specialises in commercial sponsorship and partnership marketing, working with each rights holders and types. Paul Poole (South East Asia) Co., Ltd. has packaged, sold, and managed sponsorship and partnership alternatives for several of Southeast Asia’s main yachting events, together with virtually all of the exhibits named in this story..

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