The MYBA Charter Show—long held in Genoa, Italy, and moved for the first time this year to Barcelona, Spain—is an invitation- and industry-only event for charter yachts, brokers and press. It’s a great chance for insiders to get the scoop on what’s happening in the crewed yacht charter market.
Here are a few of my top insights about the upcoming Mediterranean yacht charter season after the first two days on the docks:
Superyachts in the classic summer charter destinations of France and Italy are still popular: Yachts about 164 feet and larger are already pretty well booked for the prime charter dates in July and August along the Cote d’Azur and Italian Riviera. Managers are reporting availability during shoulder weeks and off-peak dates, but most of the larger yachts with solid charter reputations have been snapped up well in advance of prime time.
Benetti Charter Yacht Silver Angel, for Mediterranean Yacht Charter
Smaller yachts across the East and West Mediterranean are seeing a surge of business: A fair number of yachts from about 65 to 100 feet length overall are at the show this year, and their managers say they have precious little availability remaining for the summer 2017 season. One manager told me that as fast as shipyards can turn out these yachts, they get booked for charter. So few owners enter the charter market in this size range that demand is apparently outpacing supply, especially in France and Italy.
The Balearic Isles in Spain are going to be a hotspot this summer: Because of recent changes in tax and other laws for chartering in Spain, yachts are signing up at a fast clip to get their Spanish and Balearics charter licenses. Managers are encouraging all yacht owners to join that club, as consumers are showing huge demand for the Balearic Isles. Several managers told me they believe the demand is in part because of security and terrorism concerns in mainland Europe. The Balearics are considered safe.
Croatia, Where Yacht Charter Tax Concerns Are High
Greece is up, Turkey is down: Managers of charter yachts in the Greek Isles still have some availability for this summer, but because of security and terrorism concerns in neighboring Turkey, the best charter yachts in Greece are expected to fill their calendars pretty quickly for the 2017 summer season. While Turkey is seeing some charter demand, more inquiries are apparently coming for Greece, especially among American clients.
Croatia is popular, but concerns are high about VAT: Charter managers are reporting consumer demand for itineraries in Croatia, which in recent years has become a favorite East Mediterranean cruising ground, but the government’s continued hints that it plans to impose a tax on all charters has some managers and clients booking elsewhere, to avoid unpleasant financial surprises. As of today, no tax has been imposed, and rumors are that the government will not move this summer, but worries remain high.
Albania wants to enter the charter market in the East Mediterranean: Seeing the success of Montenegro and Croatia to its north and Greece to its south, the nation of Albania is apparently starting to make moves toward joining the global yachting industry. Currently, infrastructure such as marinas is minimal (and that’s being polite) for welcoming charter yachts in Albania, but leaders are starting to talk about becoming more than just a coastline that the yachts cruise past on their way somewhere else.
Port Vell, Barcelona
Barcelona is beautiful: For many charter brokers, especially Americans, this year’s MYBA Charter Show marks the first time they’ve been to the Spanish coastal city of Barcelona. The consensus on the docks is that Barcelona is a highly walkable and lovely city with some great restaurants and views. Look for brokers to recommend itineraries this summer that include a few days in and around Barcelona before meeting a charter yacht at Port Vell (home to the charter show, in the photo above) and cruising across to the Balearic Isles for a week or longer, or hopping on a quick flight via private plane or helicopter to meet a charter yacht in Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic islands.