Feb. 16, 2005 When the 21st annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention gets underway at the Miami Beach Convention Center on March 14, one of the symposiums will cover a growing niche market super yachts. The V.I. Department of Tourism doesn't want to overlook that market.
"We offer a natural deep water harbor," Steve Bornn, Tourism Department's marketing manager, said Friday.
While some of the super yachts tie up at Crown Bay Marina, most opt for a space along the Charlotte Amalie Waterfront.
Bornn said crews and guests can stroll across the Waterfront Highway to visit Charlotte Amalie's restaurants and bars.
"And they're right across from Rolex," Bornn said, speaking of the high-end watches for sale at an A.H. Riise store.
Ken Huskey, who owns V.I. Yacht Services, said Wednesday that the yachts find everything they need on St. Thomas to stock and take care of their boats.
"They use St. Thomas as a base," he said.
The boats then head off for trips around the Caribbean with owners or guests onboard.
Karen Stanton, dockmaster at St. Croix Marine, said Thursday that the biggest yachts that come to St. Croix are in the 150-foot size with a crew of 12. She said maybe only one or two those yachts hit St. Croix each season.
In her opinion, they have little economic impact on St. Croix as the owners are usually just getting fuel and provisions. However, she added, often a bunch will arrive that wants taxis to either Carambola or Buccaneer golf courses.
According to Stanton, the 115 or so small boats that moor each year at her marina and the other small boats that moor in Christiansted Harbor have more economic impact. She said those people like to go shopping downtown, hit the restaurants and the bars.
Husky said Wednesday five super yachts were tied up on the Charlotte Amalie waterfront. He said that since December, a total of 27 have called, but many of them have made multiple visits as they go leave to cruise around the areas.
"They come in, sit for four or five days and go out again," Huskey said.
He said he couldn't put a monetary value on how much the visits pump into the territory's economy.
Huskey said that while he organizes flowers, food, maintenance and numerous details for the boat captains, the major focus is helping the yacht crews meet regulations for entering the territory.
He said the captains must notify the U.S. Coast Guard 24 hours in advance of their arrival. Additionally, if people on board are not U.S. citizens, they must have the visas required by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
"They have to turn in their crew lists 24 hours in advance," Huskey said.
Both V.I. Yacht Services and the Tourism Department advertise to lure the yachts to the territory.
Huskey said he takes out numerous full-page ads in publications the captains are likely to read. They include the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show program and the "Super Yacht Services Guide." Additionally, he advertises in "Dockwalk," a publication for captains and crews, as well as a local marine guide.
Bornn said the Tourism Department advertises in "Elite Traveler," a magazine aimed at well-to-do people who travel.
"It's an oversized book that runs about $85 a copy," he said.
Bornn said that while the Tourism Department attends Seatrade, attending the Miami Boat Show reaps bigger rewards because that's where those travelers go.
Huskey said he does not plan to attend Seatrade.
"The best advertisement is doing a good job. Word of mouth brings us more business than any other thing I try to do," he said.
Efforts to reach several of the speakers at the Super Yacht symposium were unsuccessful.
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