Abu Dhabi: Rental rates for marina berths have remained steady over the past two years in Gulf countries, but managers are offering extra services and benefits to maintain occupancy levels.
While the demand for berths has rebounded since the liquidity crunch put a temporary stop to big ticket item purchases, such as luxury yachts and cruises, there is increased pressure on efficiencies.
"With more competition, the consumer is definitely getting better value for money. Marinas are looking at new initiatives to keep customers and draw more," said Matthew Bate, director of operations at Mourjan Marinas IGY, one of the region's largest marina management service providers and developers.
While apartment and villa rents have been extremely volatile, the upper-end market for berths has not seen much change in terms of rates. There is, however, a considerable focus now on customer services.
Bate said recently introduced services included free boat washes, valet service, improved hospitality-style service and experience.
Some of the projects under development at the moment include three marinas in Abu Dhabi, the Wave Muscat in Oman, and a few others at the Lusail City project in Doha, Qatar.
Driving the demand for new marinas are three sectors — Gulf nationals, new expatriate residents and existing clients looking for a piece of the "UAE lifestyle that revolves [around] boating," according to Bate.
There are currently 96 berths coming online in the next two months in Doha and another 400-plus within the Wave Muscat. The first phase will be completed later this year.
The new marinas will ultimately create a network so boat owners can cruise around the Gulf, knowing there will be locations to host them in different countries. Additionally, access to new waters, will in turn attract and drive the industry.
"The industry has evolved in the past 12 months, and it has been very positive. When you're comparing it to a lot of other yachting industries globally, [the] UAE and the Middle East in general have definitely been at the forefront of the stronger markets," Bate said.
Eleven global premieres set for Dubai Boat Show
The 19th edition of the Dubai Boat Show yesterday saw its first day after being inaugurated by Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.
This year, the five-day show is hosting 425 yachts and boats, including a record 30 regional launches and 11 global premieres.
"In many cases, there is a shift towards smaller and medium-sized boats to making boat ownership more accessible and affordable. With the larger yachts, although prices remain steady, there are far more value added benefits, which is ultimately good news for both the companies and the customers," said Erwin Bamps, chief operating officer of Gulf Craft, the UAE-based manufacturer.
Luxury yachts that will globally premiere at the event include the Riviera 60m from Riviera Boats, Gulf Craft's Majesty 70, Oryx 42 open and Silver Craft 38cc; and Al Dhaen Craft's Wave Breaker 500, Classica 470 and Pioneer 320, among others.
ART Marine will headline the regional launches as it unveils eight new creations: Atlantis Verve 36, Azimut 48, Azimut 53, Azimut 72s, Four Winns 1800B, Grady White 306 and Numarine 102.
New countries showcasing their products at the show include Bangladesh, Czech Republic, Monaco, Oman, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.