The Rise of Charter Down Under

16 October 2020

The global yacht charter market was worth an estimated US$15.36 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach US$27 billion by 2027*.

In line with the rise in disposable income and an appetite for bespoke experiences, the charter industry is enjoying a surge of interest, fuelled in part by social media and the visibility of celebrities enjoying sojourns at sea.

Yacht charter around the world has experienced an adjustment since the start of the COVID19 pandemic which ushered in international travel restrictions and border closures. In Australia and the South Pacific, charter is enjoying a rise in popularity as people realise it’s a safe and hassle-free means of exploring the beauty that Australia has to offer.

Rivergate Marina & Shipyard in Brisbane has welcomed six charter vessels to our facility in 2020, predicting a boost to that number before the end of the year as superyachts return from spring cruising in Far North Queensland for maintenance and refit work.

“The charter industry is worth millions to the local economy in terms of employment for our tenants and contractors, as well as their spend in every port on provisions, tourism and activities,” said Andrew Cannon, Rivergate General Manager.

“With strict COVID19 protocols in place, Brisbane is the ideal refit and maintenance destination for crews looking to spend time on shore while their vessel undergoes work. There is plenty to see and do, a wonderful alfresco lifestyle to enjoy, venues are open and the welcome is as warm as the weather.”

For visiting international superyachts from Asia, NZ and the South Pacific, Australia is an attractive destination for refit work. In 2019, Australian Parliament passed The Special Recreational Vessel Bill that allows international superyachts to charter while they’re in Australia, meaning they can amortise a percentage of their expenses while in Australian waters with commercial charters.

Charter is proving more popular with Australians as they seek to explore their home waters.

Laurie Foulon, Charter Experience Manager at Ocean Alliance says Australians are rediscovering charter as an alternative to travelling overseas.

“Vacations aboard a private yacht allow them to spend quality time with family and friends and experience the stunning destinations closer to home. A number of yachts have also revised their offers to be all-inclusive rates and help with the last-minute decisions to step onboard.”

Charter is attracting new markets beyond seasoned charter guests: Boat owners whose vessels may be overseas or interstate, groups of friends from the cruise ship market and people who are new to charter are realising it’s a curated, safe environment.

“There’s a strong desire to head out to sea on a charter vessel to a beautiful location, which is particularly amplified by the current situation,” says Jo Howard, Managing Director at Ocean Alliance.

The luxury tourism segment suffered a momentary downturn, but yacht charter is ideally positioned to attract Australians to dipping a toe in.

“Australians spend in excess of $65 billion on international travel each year. There is definitely the opportunity to attract Australians to charter during this period of limited travel. Charter is such a perfect experience, especially given the conditions at the moment: safe, isolated, controlled, you have professional crew and your choice of pristine cruising grounds.”

The appeal of charter is obvious: the ease of travel, fully catered aboard your luxurious crewed vessel; access to picturesque locations such as the

 Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, Far North Queensland, Tasmania, Kimberley coast, Sydney Harbour, Pittwater and the Hawkesbury; and memories for a lifetime.

Families see yacht charter as a private, safe vacation with a constantly changing backdrop.

The Whitsundays are perennially popular for charter, enticing with warm, azure waters, 74 islands, the wonders of the Reef, diving, snorkelling, watersports, hiking, and the diverse offering of Hamilton Island and its choice of dining, boutiques, golf, spa and other family-friendly recreation.


Tahiti opened its borders to the US in July, and the charter market has picked up considerably since then. So too is PNG due to open up to charter again soon.

“Australia is seen as a safe-haven and this is the perfect opportunity to schedule work at world-class shipyards. The fact that Australia is now offering a pathway to charter is certainly attractive for superyacht owners and Captains,” says Jo referring to The Special Recreational Vessel Bill.

“There are definite benefits and potential on the domestic front to expand charter, but we will not see the full potential of this legislation until borders are open to international visitors,” he adds.

Rivergate is primed and well-positioned to cater to visiting international superyachts, with a professional management team, world-class facilities, specialist tenants and trades, contractors and access to a skilled workforce.

* Thank you to Rivergate Marina and Jeni Bone for a fantastic article, originally published here. *


To arrange your next charter experience, contact Ocean Alliance’s expert superyacht managers!

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