SABBEX speaks to V&A marine boss Andre Blaine about latest developments
SABBEX: Recent figures suggest foreign tourists are returning to CT /SA, and presumably the same goes for leisure craft. Has the V&A seen an uptick in boating visitors so far this year? (compared with last year)
Andre Blaine – Yes we have seen an uptick in the number of casual yachts and ships visiting the V&AW with longer stays as well. We have had a good past season which exceeded our expectations partly due to visiting vessels and Yachts as well as commissioning yachts berthed with us from local manufacturers. The efforts of OSASA in assisting through the Department of Transport with foreign visiting yachts to the country has also assisted with the up tick we have experienced.
SABBEX: What does this mean in terms of future planning? Are there still discussions around a possible superyacht precinct and, if so, have there been any decisions as to what this might look like?
Andre Blaine – There is an increase in the destinations exposure worldwide and being recognised on the international platform as a destination to travel to. The superyacht facility that we spoke about pre Covid is in the final planning stages and due to Covid has been delayed. What however was proven throughout Covid was the resilience of the marine manufacturing sector and the build of new super yachts and exploration yachts which has remained strong. The local industry from numbers sourced through SABBEX has grown 18% year on year; it has been a leading sector in the economy. So yes we are in the final stages of the planning of a facility at the quay 7 area that would incorporate berthing, storage and concierge services coupled with the landside development there. We do see the superyacht business as a service that needs to be improved upon and which requires alignment from industry, business and government to make it successful. Watch the space.
SABBEX: There is talk of a maritime precinct at the V&A, in much the same way that Makers Landing is a new innovation hub /food incubator etc. Where do things stand regarding this initiative and would this synch with plans for more superyachts /superyacht services?
Andre Blaine – Yes this is something that we have researched and investigated with industry and the maritime sector. With that initial stage of research completed, we are evaluating the creation of an Ocean hub for excellence, innovation and skills and design. The facility will strengthen that node in the Port of Cape Town and adds facility to the marine manufacturing sector of the economy. We will soon share more details about this.