The market had great potential with outdoor leisure pursuits becoming increasingly popular amongst the growing middle class and youth. The lack of marine infrastructure was deemed a major hurdle.
The Indian economy has improved greatly in the past 20 years. People have more purchasing power to participate in leisure activities. Unless the government invests in marine infrastructure, it cannot improve the opportunities to get into boating.
India might be one of the 20 biggest economies in the world, but the boating industry is really small and the recreational boat sector is on the rise.
People are very keen to have a boat, a wake boat, a sport fishing boat, a jet boat or the like, but we have problems; we don’t have marinas, and we don’t have regulations for the sector.
Sport fishing is the entry for more serious boating later on. The development of the pleasure boat market is quite similar to what happened with the automobile market in the 1970s. People started to buy medium size, pre-owned cars, and now we see Indians in Porsches and BMWs. The same has to happen in boats. We need to create the market and opportunity to drive the consumer to sport fishing, used boats and moving them to new units. Models ranging from 18ft – 22ft are proving to be more popular.
The prominence of Marina in tourism is immense. Marina attractsaffluent foreign tourist to the location and thereby augments the foreign currency earnings of the country. Marina normally caters the docking and related facility for passengers or tourists through sea route. Marina is one major infrastructure facility, which supports marine tourism. A marina may have the following facilities apart from berths for mooring yachts:
- Refueling facilities
- Yacht cleaning facilities
- Repair facilities
- Ship chandlers
- General Stores, restaurants and bars
- Boarding & Lodging Facilities for sailors
- Ground facilities
- Parking lots for vehicles and boat trailers
- Slipways or boat ramps to transfer a trailered boat into the water
- Boat hoist well (a traveling crane) operated by service personnel
- Fee-based services
- Picnic areas
Currently, there is only one marina functioning in India, which is situated at Kochi. Anothermarina projects in locations like A&N islands, Goa, Mumbai, Chennai, Pondicherry and Kolkata are at different stages of infancy. It is imperative to create a strong network of marinas in the region to create a nautical cruising circuit for yachting, sailing and promoting water tourism among larger Indian population.
Regulations and control
- REGULATIONS – Currently there are no clear rules for yachts / boats / sports boats and sailing yachts. There are rules for big ocean going vessels and inland vessels but they are arbitrarily being applied to yachts with no aesthetic sense. A simple example – a barge filling sand / carrying coal can ply the coast of India whereas power yachts / sailing yachts with better fit outs and navigational equipment cannot be operated for lack of regulatory guidelines.
SOLUTION – Adopt the small boats act from the MCA which has definition for power yachts above 24m and below and for sail yachts as well. There is also a provision for yachts on charter. Charter yachts can be endorsed commercially.
- FLAGGING – If we put the above suggested regulations in place and set up a yacht specific registration authority under the state maritime board and specific yacht clauses like the MCA, it will help resolve many issues. It could be worked in a system where today a lot of work is subverted to the IRS in this case the Maritime board can sublet this to a central agency and they could do this. This will develop the industry and yachting as a whole.
- CRUISING POLICY – India has the potential to become the next cruising ground of the world. With our developing economy all the big corporates want to come to India and what better way to see the country than with your yacht. However, we have a problem. Today when an International visiting yacht comes to India they have to do an inward and outward from each port with custom and immigration in both ports. This is a time consuming and cumbersome process. A simple question, if a foreigner arrives in Mumbai by air he/she is then free to travel all over the country on one visa. Whereas if the yacht comes in by sea he has to do multiple custom and immigration checks which is not common in other countries.
The same issue pertains to any domestic boater too.
Say, if a person wants to sail his yacht from water body of one state to another state, there are cumbersome policies and regulations with hefty fees on entering the waters, thus hampering the industry. An individual will like to use his/her boat as any automobile on road. The road transportation allows the movement of a personal vehicle by charging nominal permits/ entry taxes depending upon days of travelling within the state. The same process should be followed for yachts plying in waterways too.
SOLUTION – Set up a cruising permit. This can be issued by a central/state agency which in turn can inform the police/ immigration of yachts visiting the country or coming from another state and their whereabouts. This will open up a great tourism opportunity.
- INFRASTRUCTURE – The bane of all development. One has seen the effect of privatization of airports – if we can privatize ports why not waterfront development / and waterfront living – the potential is huge, with week European economy we can create world class infrastructural amenities in India which shall cater to the global yachts tourists and develop tourism.
- LACK OF NODAL AGENCY – It is time to have a consolidated single window agency to do this.
- LACK OF NAUTICAL CULTURE – The nurturing of nautical culture is an important prerequisite in stimulating demand growth. This includes setting up nautical training schools to develop local qualified manpower, encouraging the growth of the local and international yacht manufacturing industry, and developing financial products to finance and insure yachts.
- PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGNS BY TOURISM DEPARTMENT– The promotion of the marina industry would raise awareness of its possibilities and help grow demand. Promotions may include advertising and organization of events such as regattas, festivals, and carnivals. These efforts will attract key players such as boat manufacturers, service providers, infrastructure developers and maintenance providers
- ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY – The long term of pleasure boating industry can’t be compromised for short term profits. Best-in-class eco-friendly methods of design, construction, and operations are necessary to win licences and attract tourists who want to feel good about leaving natural resources in their pristine state.
It is a pretty new market that has not so many options for the local customer. What boats exist in new nascent markets are not the same boats that are locally manufactured.
Sales are motivated by weather, and so the decent weather conditions prevalent in India does help to encourage people out onto the water.
Warm weather is a nice weather to motivate boat enthusiasts and boat buyers
MarineStore.in – A division of Esmario Export Enterprises Pvt Ltd
Despite all the hurdles in the boating industry, we are committed to deliver a sea of difference in the marine field since 1986. We have been providing sales and service of boats and marine engines to defence, private and other government sector organizations.
Through MarineStore.in, India’s first and only online store for bringing marine products closer to all individuals, we are working to bring awareness on water sports with which everyone gets connected to the cause of preservation and healthier utilization of waterbodies rather than just treating them as dumping yards. A more evolved involvement by people will bring better infrastructure and holistic development of the marine industry which can further be used for better disaster management planning, internal and external security through waterways, utilization of water channels as mode of transportation and growth in domestic and international tourism.