Phuket (Thailand) - High taxation, lack of infrastructure and rising pollution levels are impeding the growth of yacht tourism in India, an industry expert has pointed out.
India has as high as 60 per cent tax on imports of yachts which is discouraging industry players from bringing luxurious boats into the country, Gulu Lalvani, the chairman of Royal Phuket Marina, told visiting Indian journalists on the sidelines of a yacht exhibition here.
At the same time, places like Phuket have zero import tax on boats and offer great price advantage to enthusiasts to own yachts at these places instead of importing into India, he explained.
Acknowledging the Narendra Modi-led government's efforts to promote cruise and sea tourism in India, he said the country with its vast coastline has a great potential for the yacht industry and creating jobs.
But rising pollution levels and lack of port base and berthing facilities are major challenges to growth, Lalvani noted. The growth has been limited to few places like Kochi and Goa despite a vast coastline, he rued.
The prime minister in 2017 boarded a seaplane in Gujarat as part of efforts to promote water-based tourism activities and waterways. Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari is also pushing for a hybrid amphibious boat that can run on low depth waters in India. Cochin Port Trust is also making efforts to promote cruise tourism.
However, Lalvani thinks this is not enough at a time when Phuket is emerging as a yachting hub in Asia due to attractive taxation policy and favourable weather.
With airlines like GoAir and IndiGo starting direct flights to the famous tourist spot in Thailand, it has become easier for Indians to fly to the city and enjoy yachting than owning expensive vessels in India.
After the direct flights, the number of Indian tourists as well boating enthusiasts to Phuket has grown manifold, Lalvani noted, expressing confidence that Indians would emerge as the third largest yacht owners in the city.
Now yacht traders are offering fractional ownership to Indians which would also boost their flow to the tourist spot, he added.