The Pacific island of Fiji has just released some growth figures on the yachting in Fiji…we follow the history, development and vision from within the marine industry here, and its importance to tourism and the Fijian economy.
With a great deal of planning, experience in the superyacht industry, much hard work and vision – Fiji is now firmly established as a stop over port and base in the Pacific for all sizes of yachts, from small cruisers, The Oyster World Rally to the largest of Superyachts.
Similar to growth developing in the Caribbean from the 1950’s onwards – the beautiful waters around Fiji were legendary and attracted the brave and the inquisitive to venture far across the Pacific in search of what they thought would be Paradise; vessels varied greatly in size, in comfort, in numbers of crew and in their standard of safety….
Word spread of Fiji’s welcoming shores, but there were no marinas – only a Yacht Club – crew having to fend for themselves when it came to supplies, repairs & fuel!
Various people & families were instrumental in seeing the opportunity for Fiji, investing funds needed to provide both the infrastructure and the marketing to realise the potential this segment represented.
The contribution from the Skeggs & Phillips families over the years saw a port of sorts built at Savusavu then a secure marina in an old quarry at Vuda.
Sir Clifford Skeggs son Nigel spent a number of years as a Superyacht Captain in the Mediterrean and had intimate knowledge of the facilities & services needed to attract the very top end of the yachting market to Fiji.
Savusavu was upgraded and when Nigel arrived back on island he built the first real Superyacht marina on Fiji.
The Denarau Commercial Complex was built on the land directly adjacent to the Port Denarau Marina, providing the type and standard of facilities that were demanded by the Superyachts who were basing themselves in these waters for several months – owners and guests flying thousands of miles to join these luxurious yachts in ‘Paradise’!
The dynamic team of Nigel Skeggs & David Jamieson of Asia Pacific Superyachts ( Formally Yacht Help Fiji), now provided structure with management , provisioning, refuelling, repairs & other important services required by the yachts – with visits overseas to International Yacht Shows to spread the word! Recommendations began pouring in and so developed the yachting industry as we know it today.
The Fijian government listened and came on board, changing laws regulating yachts & crew – facilitating yachts entering and leaving the country, simplifying the process of yacht crew changeover and foreign crew working in Fiji, which had previously been stumbling blocks.
As a result of an increase in visiting yachts, a number of yachting related businesses developed in Fiji creating employment for locals; yachts now plan their voyage with a scheduled stop in Fiji, not just for charter guests to enjoy, but for works and services en route across the Pacific – a great credit to the island & community.
We have received many recommendations from yachts and rallies passing through the Pacific – we now list just under 100 Captains Recommended Services in Fiji, from the outstandingly well run Port Denarau Marina, excellent engineering & refit companies, to specialist provisioning companies, outstanding Yacht Services support, Dive, surf & kiteboarding centres and even a Fijian cooking school!
The number of visiting Yachts in 2018 says it all…
721 visiting yachts in 2018, 54 superyachts and 667 yachts under 24 m.
The average stay for superyachts in Fiji was 82 days and 137 days for yachts under 24 m.
The visiting yachts brought 1,963 crew & an additional 2,510 guests to the islands, most of whom flew in and out .
The financial benefits to Fiji are huge – but as Greg Ross humbly articulated in an article for the Fiji Sun, “ the industry brings more benefits to the locals with jobs and opportunities to travel the world and gain very marketable skills.”
So if you are heading west through Panama in 2019, make sure you plan a stop in Fiji….
Source: Fiji Sun – article by Greg Ross.