|2012 Genoa Charter Yacht Show: Day One|
|Written by Kim Kavin|
|Monday, 30 April 2012 11:45|
Day One of the 2012 Genoa Charter Yacht Show has just closed. I had a chance to talk with several leading charter brokers from both the United States and Europe, and they all gave me the same market report--which is good, but cautious.
The Caribbean season was, once again, slow. Or completely dead, depending on whom I asked. This is the second to third year in a row that the Caribbean has seen decline or stagnation in bookings. Brokers previously attributed the slow business to the American recession, since Americans drive a great deal of the charter business in the Caribbean. But the U.S. economy is doing better and bookings are beginning to come in for Europe this summer, which has some brokers now wondering if the Caribbean is simply falling out of favor as a winter destination. The Indian Ocean and South Pacific, by comparison, are seeing more action and inquiries than in years past. That could affect where a number of charter yachts choose to position next winter.
Meanwhile, Americans are booking early for the coming summer charter season in the Mediterranean. There was a flurry of advance bookings in February and March, with longtime charter clients snapping up many of the best yachts well in advance. Recent weeks have seen that initial surge of interest die down, but at least the U.S. market is beginning to return as a solid source of charter business.
On the flip side is the European market, which is taking its sweet time booking charters for this summer. Some brokers believe this has simply become the norm after several years of last-minute deal-making that began with the global economic collapse. Other brokers, however, are concerned that the slow-to-book Europeans are feeling a lot this year like American clients felt in 2008 and 2009--wary of recession and keeping cash on hand instead of spending it. If the latter is the underlying cause of delayed bookings, then there very well could be a great deal of availability remaining late into the summer season in the Med. That, in turn, should mean a good negotiating posture for last-minute clientele.
Even despite that trend, I did get onboard a few megayachts today that already are reporting several weeks of charter booked for this summer. The 122-foot Heesen motoryacht Aurelia with Ocean Independence and the 196-foot CRN motoryacht Darlings Danama with Camper and Nicholsons International are both new to the charter market this summer and making their boat-show debuts, and both say they already have several weeks of charters on the books. The 144-foot Palmer Johnson motoryacht Four Wishes, which has a long history in charter with Fraser Yachts Worldwide, is also reporting a great deal of advance bookings. Many of those are repeat clients, and some have already booked dates as far in advance as 2013.
Given those reports from the captains and managers I met with today, I must say that I'm just as cautiously optimistic as the brokers I talked with about the upcoming summer season. It's been a few years since I've heard about so many advance bookings at this time of year, and it's at least a good sign that the market is moving back in the right direction following the global economic collapse. There may still be a flurry of last-minute business in the Mediterranean this summer with some good chunks of open dates, but for the newest and most popular boats, it seems that advance bookings are starting to return, primarily from American clients. It's nice to see.
More from the docks in Genoa tomorrow.