Market update and outlook for Chartering this fall

Everyone asks us how the summer went and what is going on in the charter market these days, so here are our views on the market and and a few of our expectations for the remainder of the year.

About midway through July, demand for Mediterranean charters picked up dramatically – last minute charters came out of the woodwork and we’ve been inundated ever since. Anecdotal stories from other industries such as villa rentals generally say that same thing. People wanted deals, but in the end they still wanted a great holiday, despite the recession.

We believe that there is much more confidence amongst charterers, and that this will continue into the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Asia/Pacific high seasons from December through April. We’ve seen our traffic and enquiries accelerate (more than double from last September when the world was falling apart) and our operators in the Caribbean say that Christmas and New Years availability is becoming scarce. If you’re planning a charter during this peak period in the Caribbean, especially the BVI, then best to contact soon to discuss the boats that are remaining (we’ve created a nice listing of BVI Yacht Charter Availability here. Unfortunately, with the rebound in the economy, the possibility of “deals” during this peak period is dramatically diminished.

We’ve also seen a significant pick-up in demand for the Indian Ocean – especially in the Seychelles and Maldives. Because these are longer haul destinations, they seem to be picking up a bit more slowly, so there is still good availability, but if the current trend continues we wouldn’t recommend waiting until the last minute and looking for deals, or you may be disappointed.

Thailand got hit with a double whammy at the end of 2008. Just as the world economy was falling apart, the Bangkok international airport was closed by political protesters, heavily impacting the tourism sector in general. This lead to much lower demand in the first half of 2009, and some amazing charter deals being available to counteract all the bad publicity.

But just as our Asia Charter Manager was starting to wonder if the world was still in love with Thailand, July/August has seen a dramatic rise in enquiries and bookings for Thailand charters. As Europeans return from their summer vacations, we expect this increase in demand to continue. In fact, like every year, most cats are already booked up many months in advance for the peak periods of Christmas and New Year in Phuket.

As for the Mediterranean next summer – it’s anybody’s guess, but we certainly expect that next summer will be significantly stronger than this year, so don’t expect the type of deals that we were seeing this year. It may sound self serving, but the best way to guarantee the current prices and get a bit of a discount as well is to get an early booking discount – which generally means booking your summer charter before the end of the year.

About Tom Virden


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