Yacht charter policy updated |14 February 2020
The cabinet on Wednesday approved the revised Yacht Charter Policy which provides guidelines and provisions for the yachting tourism industry in Seychelles.
The policy defines three types of yacht charter services available in Seychelles, namely, bare boat charters, skippered charters and crewed charters, and sets out the regulations pertaining to business structures within the industry.
As per the policy, bare boat charters is the hiring of a ship or boat, whereby no crew or provisions are included as part of the agreement, instead, the people who rent the vessel from the owner are responsible for taking care of such things, while skippered charter means that the yacht is rented with a professional crew consisting of a skipper/captain who is responsible for the manoeuvring of the yacht. Crewed Charters include the captain and crew to operate the boat, provision for meals, and do all the cooking and cleaning.
“Both Seychellois and foreigner investors are encouraged to join the boat charter industry, although restrictions apply. If a yacht charter company only has 1 to 3 yachts in its fleet, the company must be Seychellois owned in its totality and foreigners are restricted from participating. However, if there is a fleet of 4 to 5 yachts in the company, then the Seychellois shareholder can hold the majority, at least, 51 percent shares and the other 49 percent can be offered to foreign partners,” principal secretary for Tourism, Anne Lafortune, stated.
The policy also makes provision for a yacht charter company to be 100 percent foreigner-owned, provided it has a fleet exceeding 6 yachts. As there is increasing demand for super yachts, PS Lafortune noted that a foreigner can be the sole owner of a yacht charter company with only one vessel, provided the vessel exceeds 24 metres and costs at least $2 million.
“The policy also imposes a restriction on the number of yachts that are allowed in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which although very vast, we do not want overexploitation of our marine resources. Therefore, the limit is 200 yachts and any one company can only have a maximum of 30 yachts,” she noted.
“We also intend to next year conduct a carrying capacity study for our seas, both around the inner and outer islands, so we can better decide if we need to review the policy, and as an indication of how our seas are faring,” PS Lafortune added.
She further urged for charter companies to also visit other islands other than the inner islands, noting that the government is working towards making available amenities on such islands to encourage more visitors to explore the outer islands, and plans to construct more marinas on the inner islands for yachts to anchor when not at work. Additionally, the government is looking into establishing a space for yachts repairs and maintenance works.
The policy also advises recruitment of Seychellois skippers, on account of the availability of skippers on the local labour market. According to PS Lafortune, the department is working with the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA) and Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA), to ensure that skippers and boat crew are well-trained in customer service so they can provide a satisfactory service.
“The government is ensuring that there are environmental measures to minimise the impact of yacht activities, for instance through the use of more buoys rather than anchors, as well as for other concerned agencies, as to how yacht companies treat and dispose of sewage and waste management. There is much more emphasis now on efforts to protect and conserve the environment. In general, we are ensuring that yachting activities, even though we want the sector to develop as it is an important sector which generates a lot of revenue for Seychelles, but they need to ensure that they are environmentally-conscious and are taking their responsibility to sensitise the visitors and their clients,” PS Lafortune concluded.