Superyacht owners should be given exemptions to arrive for America's Cup, marine industry says

The Marine Industry Association is warning that millions of dollars will go by the wayside if the Government doesn't step in to allow superyacht owners to travel here for the America's Cup.

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Peter Busfield talks about the economic benefits of superyachts visiting Aotearoa. Source: Breakfast

Stuff reported yesterday that dozens of marine berths for superyachts have already been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, with superyacht owners shying away from isolation requirements.

Visits by superyachts and luxury boats were initially estimated to be bringing about $180 million to the New Zealand economy during the sailing competition, but that likelihood seems to be fading and there are calls from the marine industry for the Government to step in.

Speaking this morning to TVNZ1's Breakfast, Marine Industry Association executive director Peter Busfield said the average superyacht could spend up to $2 million during a trip to New Zealand, while the average Australian tourist might spend $3000.

"At the moment, we've got an America's Cup but we're not allowing the wealthy sector of people to come to New Zealand to help the manufacturing sector," Busfield said.

He said some superyacht owners had arranged to have their yachts brought to New Zealand for the competition, only to find that they themselves would need to isolate for two weeks on arrival after flying to join their boat, which had led to cancellations.

He called on the Government to include superyacht owners in special considerations being given to the America's Cup.

"I would suggest that the Government look at the America's Cup and the critical worker situation to say that the superyacht owners that are coming down to be part of their boat for the America's Cup as part of the approved America's Cup programme.

"If the owners are flying in, not sailing on their vessel necessary - they would pay up to $50,000 for quarantining at one of the exotic lodges throughout New Zealand - these guys will pay $50,000 for their two-week quarantine.

"They'd do a Covid test before they depart their own country to make sure they're safe at that end, and then go through the quarantine process in New Zealand. So they'd actually be going through a more stiffer control than Kiwis returning to New Zealand."

Busfield said initial estimates were that 160 superyachts would likely visit during the America's Cup - and said if provisions are put in place now, New Zealand could still expect to see "probably 50 or 60".