Monaco Yacht Show 2020 – to attend or not to attend?

Posted On: 22 Jun 2020

James Porter is a regular visitor to the prestigious Monaco Yacht Show each September in his role as Head of our Marine & Aviation division. But industry opinion on whether or not the 2020 outing of the show should go ahead has recently split industry opinion.  Here James shares an update on the latest news in relation to this high profile event. 

Like most industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a marked impact on the international yachting sector. Many businesses have been temporarily closed and staff furloughed, and the usual annual cycle of industry activity severely disrupted.

Signs of encouragement are visible though, as countries such as Croatia, Greece and Italy start to reopen for business. April to October is generally viewed as peak season for the yachting industry, particularly in the med. Yacht charters are popular in this region during the Summer months, and many hope that as countries start to reopen, returning to some level of normality will become a reality.

KHMA, like the rest of the industry, continues to monitor the situation closely, so that we can act in our clients’ best interests while safeguarding our own business and people. Under normal circumstances, a large part of our business plans within the yachting world has always revolved around attending major industry events – with the pinnacle being the prestigious Monaco Yacht Show each September.

During these unprecedented times, we have witnessed the postponement or cancellation of so many major global events – and the yachting industry is no exception.  In what would be the 30th edition of the Monaco Yacht Show, the question of whether the show should go ahead this year has greatly divided industry opinion, and this remains a contentious issue for many.

Will it go ahead?

The latest statement from the Principality of Monaco and the show organisers (Informa) stated that they plan to deliver “an intimate, not-for-profit Monaco Yacht Show in Port Hercule in September 2020”. Full details of what this will look like will be announced in the coming weeks.

However, news that both SYBAss (Superyacht Builders Association) and LYBRA (Leading Yacht Brokers Association) – who act as representative bodies for some of the world’s leading yacht builders and brokers – are pulling out of this year’s event, has naturally impacted upon its prestige.

In a recent media interview, Raphael Sauleau (LYBRA’s current President) commented on their decision:  “Clearly, we don’t find this year very suitable for a show… [the pandemic] has had a profound psychological effect not only on our customers, but people [in general]. Having a show this year, therefore, is not appropriate – not just to get enough customers to attend, but for the image of our industry.”

Meanwhile in a separate media interview, Peter Hurzeler – CEO of Ocean Independence, a global leader in luxury superyacht sales, charter & management and also a member of LYBRA) – offered his comments on the show’s viability, saying: “The Monaco Yacht Show and yacht shows in general, is a big topic of discussion and has been for quite some time. If we look at the lockdown situation, the restrictions, and the economic environment, I do believe that we have a responsibility to look outside the superyacht world and react accordingly.”

He went on to elaborate: “Maybe 2020 is a year to stop for a moment, think and then hopefully sit at the table together and discuss the future as partners.” This last comment is perhaps in reference to the disappointment felt by both SYBAss and LYBRA with the Monaco Yacht Show organisers.

Many within the industry have felt for some time now that there are too many events, and that perhaps the current situation offers all those involved a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to reflect and review their future potential.

So, what next?

As regulars at the Monaco Yacht Show, we have always viewed it as a ‘must-attend’ event for our diaries. Over the years, I have seen the show expand and develop in response to changing trends and client demands.  As a smaller firm, we tend prioritise big events such as Monaco, as the show offers a unique opportunity to engage with the upper echelons of the industry, while offering up exciting opportunities to explore.

Will we be attending this year?

With travel restrictions still in place on the Isle of Man, our attendance will mainly be determined by the unfolding situation on the Island in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, we will continue to keep abreast of the many developments, announcements and industry discussions taking place, before making our decision accordingly.

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