SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Marina developers in Southeast Asia are racing to build berths to address the latest problem vexing Asia's rapidly growing ranks of ultra-rich: insufficient parking lots for their superyachts.
Yacht sales in Asia currently account for 9 per cent of the global market share, according to consultancy Wealth-X.
While the number falls behind North America's 44 per cent and Europe's 34 per cent, industry experts expect sales to pick up rapidly within the next few years as the number of multi-millionaires in the region increases.
The boom has far outstripped infrastructure growth, resulting in some awkward moments when boats pull up to moor.
The shortage is most acute in Hong Kong and Singapore where space, whether on land or on water, is scarce and the number of multi-millionaires among the highest in the world.
Singapore's ONE15 Marina Club, where monthly berth rentals cost $10,000 for a 40-metre boat, is currently at full capacity. Hong Kong's Discovery Bay Marina Club, where berth rentals start at $6,000 for a similar sized yacht, is also full.
"There's always been a big dream to have an 'ASEAN-ian'concept in competition with the Caribbean and Mediterranean,"Bill Green, technical projects director for Camper & Nicholson First Eastern told Reuters, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which groups several Southeast Asian countries.
"But there's no real day sailing going on in the region at the moment because there just aren't enough marinas," he said.
The distance between the marinas currently in the region makes day trips unviable, he added. Camper and Nicholson First Eastern specialises in designing and making luxury yachts in Asia.
The dearth of berths is providing an opportunity for developers such as Malaysia's largest listed property developer UEM Sunrise, which is building facilities in Malaysia's Iskandar region. The area neighbours Singapore and is already home to the Puteri Harbour development.
Further north, the city of Melaka, a world heritage site, is planning to build Southeast Asia's biggest private marina, with some 1,000 berths, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said last month. And in the popular Malaysian tourist resort of Langkawi, property firm Tradewinds Corp Bhd is developing Perdana Quay, a marina project slated for completion within the next decade.
Thailand, home to the 300-berth Ocean Marina Yacht Club, is also investing in new marinas in resorts including Krabi, hoping to lure more super-rich, big-spending tourists to its shores.