If you think about it, there is barely an industry or market in the world which is not feeling the pinch or has been affected in some way by the coronavirus pandemic. One sector seldom thought about (save for those involved in it) is the impact of COVID-19 on yacht management, leasing, and chartering. It might not be top of everyone’s mind, but it is nonetheless worth exploring how COVID-19 has run amok amongst the yachting community and the implications that have right now and for the future.
Restrictions Limit Movement
The most notable difference in the yachting world pre-pandemic and now is the lack of movement. Most people with yachts like the freedom of the open seas – they like the ability to island-hop and sail from place to place. Naturally, this has become trickier, albeit not impossible, during the outbreak.
Some ports shut down during the pandemic, and local lockdowns meant that yacht owners were forced to either stay onboard or prevented from taking trips in their vessel. Setting sail and travelling to a new port was risky at best and forbidden at worst. In high-risk areas, this remains the case.
Chartered Yachts Are an Option…for the Rich
Chartering a yacht (while impossible during the outbreak) is an option post-lockdown. Punters chartering yachts brings much-needed revenue to businesses. It will not be as simple as buckling up on a plane, but leasing a boat is an arguably safer way to travel.
Well-off families looking for a safe holiday in the sun are undoubtedly increasing the demand and the cost. Businesses which are desperate to get back on their feet fast are jacking up the prices, too. Why lounge around on beaches with sizeable crowds when one could cruise the sea in relative safety, not to mention luxury? Given the demand, it is no surprise to see chartered yachts costing a packet right now.
No Port in a Storm
On the dealership side of things, few yachts are being sold. Even families who can afford to purchase a yacht are being extra careful. A tumbling economy sees even the wealthy grasping tightly and miserly at the purse strings. With everybody looking after the pennies, the value of yachts has dipped of late. Even so, most are still far out of striking distance for your average family.
There does not appear to be any sort of let up at any time in the foreseeable future. With a predicted second surge and spike arguably inbound around the Mediterranean, people are sceptical about doing anything, and rightly so.
Only once air travel returns, rail travel becomes the norm and virtually everything else pre-COVID is back to scratch is the yachting industry likely to recover. Your guess is as good as ours in terms of a timeframe. There is also a case to be made for the yachting industry never to recover post-pandemic. With the very way we live our lives up for debate, the return to normality for the yachting industry is likely to be anything other than plain sailing.