Kaohsiung: Where Dream Yachts Become Reality
◎English translation:Peng Hsin-yi
◎Photos by Pao Chung-hui, Huang Ching-wen
The first Taiwan International Boat Show opened on May 8, 2014 in Kaohsiung Exhibition Center, and throughout the four-day event, visitors were able to see 60 luxury yachts displayed in the spacious exhibition area that stretched from inside the center all the way to the waterfront. It was a magnificent sight, seeing 20 deluxe yachts docked at the newly completed Pier-22 Yacht Marina, forming a ceremonial fleet saluting Kaohsiung, Taiwan's Maritime Capital.
Taiwan's yacht-makers enjoy global influence in the industry, and have won many European and American customers thanks to their world-renounced craftsmanship and customized services. According to yacht enthusiast magazine Showboats International, Taiwan ranks no. 6 in the world, and no. 1 in Asia, in terms of orders received in 2014 for superyachts (boats longer than 80 feet) with a total of 5,656 feet in length.
Taiwan's most important yacht-industry cluster is in Kaohsiung, where 17 of the country's 33 yacht manufacturers are based. Kaohsiung is responsible for 80% of the output value of yacht producers in Taiwan, and of yachts made in Taiwan, 90% are launched from the Port of Kaohsiung. This yacht exhibition, the first ever in Taiwan, was backed by 25 Taiwan-based yacht manufacturers, including Horizon Group, the world's fifth-largest customized yacht manufacturer, as well as Kha Shing Enterprises, winner in the Customized Yacht category of the Motor Boat Awards given out by yacht magazine Motor Boat Monthly. The exhibition was joined by 168 manufacturers who operated a total of 861 exhibition booths. Other than boats, the exhibition also featured accessories for yachts, most notably Aritex, a brand that is now the seventh-largest marine-hardware manufacturer in the world. This exhibition demonstrated that Taiwan's yacht industry offers a comprehensive supply chain covering everything from parts to products.
The largest exhibition installation in the yacht area belonged to Horizon Group. Mr. John Lu, who is Horizon's CEO and also chairman of the Taiwan Yacht Industry Association, says Horizon showed a total of 14 yachts in this exhibition, ranging in length from 37 feet to 148 feet. This demonstrated Horizon's ability to make yachts of any size to meet every client's requirements. He says Horizon also offers unbeatable after-sales service, including an exclusive dock for clients.
In the section where equipment and accessories were displayed, Aritex stole the show. According to Aritex General Manager Tseng Sin-jhz, Italy is the world-leader in both shipbuilding and accessories production, and Taiwan can learn from Italy by packaging together the yacht industry and the peripheral industries. With a comprehensive production line, a concentrated industry cluster, and the support of peripheral industries, Kaohsiung's yacht industry has a lot of potential to grow, he says. For this exhibition, Aritex designed its booth to resemble a high-end boutique, showing off a wide array of metal yacht accessories and creating a welcoming atmosphere for potential buyers.
Nearly 1,000 foreign guests were invited to attend the Taiwan International Boat Show, many of them from Asia. In just four days, the exhibition handled over 70,000 visitors and secured 62 orders for yachts. The combined value of the orders was around NT$5.2 billion (approximately US$156 million). Horizon's Mr. Lu says Taiwan's yacht industry is built on the solid foundations of the country's shipbuilding industry, while its craftsmanship, techniques, engineering, interior and exterior design are impeccable. Meanwhile, Taiwan's metal work, machining and furniture industries are also top notch; they support the yacht industry and also benefit from it. Mr. Lu points out that yacht-making is a synthesis of highly advanced modern technologies – such as electronics, navigation and boat-operation systems – and the finest traditional craftsmanship. The yacht industry therefore draws on a sophisticated array of assembling industries, and is the most complex and value-added industry in the field of shipbuilding.
The yacht industry is both high-tech and labor intensive. Taiwan's 33 yacht manufacturers employ 8,000 people, not including those in supporting industries, such as in companies which produce new coating materials and electronic propulsion systems. The yacht industry may just become the sparkle that ignites a whole chain of peripheral industries such as yacht maintenance, as well as service businesses providing waterborne entertainment and beverages. Mr. Lu says yacht manufacturing is a mere 20% of the whole picture, and in order to expand the industry, one needs to take into consideration other aspects such as promotion, sales and resting stops. He believes the remaining 80% is as yet untapped. Noting that in Asia there is not yet a sizable yacht-focused trade show, he says that Taiwan's current position and industrial strength could well lead to it become Asia's "Yacht Center" in the near future.
Mr. Lu says laws applying to yachting in Taiwan were restrictive in the past, and domestic consumers have yet to fully embrace yacht culture, so there is no domestic market to speak of. This is a pity; luxury yachts made in Taiwan are sold to customers in Europe and North America, and the long distance puts Taiwanese companies at a competitive disadvantage for the small yachts. He points out that Taiwan's edge is the attractive added-value in services and the trust established through long-term collaboration. Taiwan has carved a niche in the high-end market. Following up on the legal reforms of two years ago, this exhibition delivers a clear message: Yachting is a lifestyle. Taiwan's yacht makers are capable of realizing their customers' dreams, and creating wonderful boats which sail on blue water beneath clear skies.
遠征歐美半世紀，台灣遊艇製造業以「客製化」服務與精湛工藝聞名。遊艇雜誌《Show Boats International》公佈2014年全球80英呎以上巨型遊艇訂單資料，台灣以總長度5,656英呎名列全球第六大遊艇製造國，也是亞洲第一。
高雄是台灣最大遊艇產業聚落，33家遊艇製造商，有17家位於高雄；其產值佔全台8成，全台9成遊艇也是從高雄港裝船出口。25家台灣遊艇廠全力支持台灣首次舉辦的遊艇展，包括全球第五大客製化豪華遊艇製造商嘉鴻遊艇和獲遊艇雜誌《Motor Boot Monthly》的Motor Boat Awards- The Winners客製化遊艇獎的嘉信遊艇等大廠。展出陣容還包括遊艇周邊零配件商，其中全球第七大遊艇五金精品製造商自創Aritex品牌的緯航企業也共襄盛舉，總計168家參展廠商，使用861個攤位，完整產出台灣遊艇產業供應鏈。