Marine to Thailand
Trends and opportunities
Thailand’s Leisure Marine sector continues to grow as the popularity of
Thailand as a major international tourism destination increases. More than
23 million foreign tourists visited Thailand, generated Baht 1.6 trillion
(approximately A$ 65 billion) incomes in 2016 (Source:
Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Thailand).
The Ministry of Tourism and Sports targets revenue from tourism industry
will reach Baht 1.81 trillion (A$ 73.5 billion) in 2017 (Source: Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom
Tourism Authority of Thailand Newsroom).
Geographical position, beautiful natural assets and extensive yachting
infrastructure have made Thailand become a major marine tourism destination
in Asia. Phuket, yachting destination on the west coast of Thailand
receives around 1,300 foreign yachts each year, while Pattaya on the east
coast welcomes less than 10 per cent of that (Source:
Bangkok Post Property).
The yachting industry generated over Baht 5.8 billion (A$ 236 million) in
annual revenue for Thailand (Source:
Kasikorn Research Center).
Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports plans to increase the number of
high-end tourists to the country by promoting leisure marine tourism,
particularly by encouraging the superyacht sector. However, changes to
regulations enabling foreign flagged superyachts over thirty metres length
to charter in Thai waters are not yet in place.
The Thai Government, led by the Ministry of Transport (MOT), has announced
a plan to promote Thailand as the ‘marina hub’ of Asia, with the aim to
develop the local yachting industry and its supply chains and to further
promote high-end tourism. The MOT is conducting a feasibility study to
identify suitable locations for developing new yacht marinas and cruise
Thailand currently has seven international standard yacht marinas as well
as some smaller marinas, with a capacity of nearly 1,500 wet berths. Six
marinas are located in Phuket and Krabi, off the Andaman Sea, while the
other is located in Pattaya, off the Gulf of Thailand.
Thailand’s boat building and repair industry has the capability to handle
the maintenance and repair of luxury yachts, as well as limited superyacht
conversion from commercial or other types of vessels. Key factors that may
hinder the growth of the yacht market in Thailand include the lack of
availability of yard hire and financing, government regulations and
restrictions on immigration of yachts and crews, taxation on yacht sales
and yacht chartering, and limited depth of the nautical channel.
Opportunity areas in Thailand’s leisure marine industry include:
boat equipment and yacht supplies
marine infrastructure and marina equipment
yacht and superyacht maintenance and repair services
fast ferries including second hand vessels
aluminium boat kits
- education and training for yacht repairs, superyacht crew, marina operation and other marine-related skills.
Australian marine design features are regarded as equal or superior to
other imported products in Thailand and boat builders should explore the
demand for both basic and sophisticated vessels.
Good opportunities exist for charter boats, chartering services, yacht
management services, pleasure craft and marina facilities in the major
seaboard tourist and island resort areas, particularly in the south of
Thailand. Australian companies interested in providing yacht chartering and
management services should consider setting up a business in Thailand as
charter licenses of yachts with length less than 30 metres are currently
limited to Thai registered yachts only.
Thailand’s important leisure marine destinations are located on the west
coast of the peninsula including Phuket, Phang-Nga and Krabi, the east
coast including Samui, Pha-ngan, Ang-thong, Pattaya, Koh Chang and several
nearby offshore islands.
Marine products and services from Australia are competitive compared to the
United States and Europe, due to proximity to the market and the
Thailand - Australia Free Trade Agreement
(TAFTA) which has resulted in tariff abolishment of most marine products
with sufficient Australian content.
Tariffs, Regulations and Customs
The Thai Government has endorsed zero import taxes on boats. Since February
2004, the following categories of boats imported into Thailand don’t have
to pay import and excise taxes:
sailboats (with or without auxiliary motor)
motorboats (other than those with outboard motors)
Value Added Tax (VAT) of 7 per cent still applies to imports. The
abolishment of import and excise duties on boats has helped to increase
demand of boats and boating products in Thailand.
Australia has signed a bilateral trade agreement with Thailand, the
Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement
(TAFTA), which has resulted in duty free import on most products with
sufficient Australian content. To qualify for TAFTA import duty rates,
Australian suppliers are required to:
establish Australian content
register as a TAFTA exporter
obtain a Certificate of Origin (CO) for the shipment
There is no quota on the type or number of vessels imported to Thailand and
an import license for importing vessels is not required.
Thailand’s Marine Department at the Ministry of Transport is responsible for granting licenses to own and operate various
vessel types. All boats cruising in Thai waters are required to hold a
license for the appropriate size of vessel. Foreign boats are allowed to
stay in Thailand for six months with the option to renew for a further six
Foreign yachts are not allowed to be chartered in Thai waters.
Boats that intend to stay in Thailand for less than six months need a
foreign sailing license. A Thai boating license is required to operate a
Thai registered vessel.
The Marine Department also checks and controls the conditions of the
vessels used in the country for the safety of passengers. There are six
classification societies who are authorised by the Marine Department to
check the standards of the vessels.
American Bureau of Shipping
Det Norske Veritas
Lloyd Register of Shipping
Nippon Kaiji Kyokai
Marketing your products and services
It is recommended that the Australian leisure marine and shipbuilding
industry considers the following approaches to the Thai market:
Australian-built new vessels (naval and commercial vessels) - Shipbuilders need to offer more basic vessels - not too sophisticated,
fast, luxurious and or expensive for Thailand. The Royal Thai Navy is
required to build new patrol vessels locally
Yacht repair and refit - Partner with yacht marinas in Thailand or set up a locally-owned yacht
repair facility at yachting destination such as Phuket, Pattaya, Krabi or
- Second-hand vessels - Some Thai operators are interested in importing second-hand vessels and
several are already in service
- Boat design and marine architecture - Thai boat builders and shipyards have capability to build luxury
yachts, fast ferries and sophisticated vessels, however design and
architecture of vessels still relies on foreign designers/ architects
Joint venture with Thai shipbuilders - Opportunities exist to enter into a licensing or joint venture
arrangements to supply expertise to build better vessels in local Thai
yards at competitive prices. Thai shipbuilders already build ferries
and cruise vessels for local operators. These are usually basic steel
and fibreglass vessels although some have been built with aluminium
superstructures. Low wage costs in Thailand mean it is difficult for
Australian yards to compete on price with locally built vessels
Set up boat building facility in Thailand - Australian boat builders may consider setting up a shipyard in Thailand
to reduce production and labour costs while maintaining quality.
Setting-up costs can be minimised by renting premises instead of
investing in green-field land and facilities. Incentives may be offered
by the Thai Board of Investment in this
Boat equipment and supplies - Appoint a local agent or a distributor to distribute your products in the
market. Australian exporters should become familiar with the Thailand –
Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) in order to claim tariff reduction
or zero per cent import duty benefits.
Most marine equipment is shipped by sea freight. Shipping time to Thailand
takes approximately two weeks and shipping frequencies are twice weekly
from major ports.
It is recommended exporters use customs agents or freight forwarders to
clear goods from customs. Your local agent or distributor usually handles
import procedures and documentation (it is required goods are imported by a
Thai registered company). Australian exporters need to provide an
Australian certificate or origin (CO) for products to be eligible for
Links and industry contacts
Government, business and trade
Australian Embassy Bangkok
Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce
Bangkok Shipowners and Agents Association
Ministry of Transport
Port Authority of Thailand
Thai Marine Business Association
Thai Ship Building and Repairing Association
Thai Ship Owners Association
The Royal Thai Navy
The Royal Varuna Yacht Club
Yacht Racing Association of Thailand
Asia Superyacht Rendezvous
King’s Cup Regatta
Ocean Marina Pattaya Boat Show
Phuket International Marine Expo
Phuket Race Week
Thailand Yacht Show
Asia Pacific Boating
South East Asia Yachting
The Bangkok Post
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