International superyachts can now charter in Australian waters thanks to the introduction of a new visa for foreign crew. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Hon. Senator Christopher Evans will announce the new visa regime, which was an election commitment, in Cairns on 30 April 2008.
The visa is expected to be available by October 2008. In the interim, from May 2008 visa sub-class 456 will be available to foreign crew on-board foreign registered superyachts and will include:
- 12 months validity
- Allow crew to work onboard the vessel
Details of the new visa include:
- 12 months validity
- extendable (on shore)
- on-line application
- multiple entry
- lodged 30 days prior to entry
- application to be accompanied by a letter from Captain
- current employment contract with the vessel required
- minimum age 18
The result of this new visa regime opens new doors for the Australian superyacht industry and provides a new, exciting destination for the global superyacht charter fleet.
Cairns, on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s most popular superyacht port, attracting an average of 40 vessels per year. This visitation has grown from an average of 8 per year just 5 years ago. The cosmopolitan city is the northern gateway to Australia and a hub port for the South Pacific region.
With the Great Barrier Reef, world heritage rainforest, idyllic islands, immaculate secluded beaches, spectacular diving, game fishing and the best in luxury retreats, this region offers a world-class superyacht charter experience. Serviced by modern refit facilities and services, international and domestic airports, a customised superyacht marina and internationally recognised superyacht training facilities, Cairns has become Australia’s premier superyacht port.
Cairns based industry cluster, Super Yacht Group – Great Barrier Reef president, Ley James said, “If Australia offers a conducive environment for international superyachts to undertake charter, the competitiveness of the destination increases significantly.”
“Owners of superyachts registered for charter will be easier to entice to Australia as it will not require the yacht to be removed from the charter market. In turn, they will be more likely to undertake a refit within Australia if the option of recouping the considerable relocation expenses via chartering the vessel exists.” said Mr James.
“The Australian industry is mature enough to satisfy the discerning nature of the charter market. Our tourism, marine services, manufacturing, electronics, provisioning, transport, etc. are first class.” said Mr James.
Lance Cushion, Chief Executive Officer, Superyacht Base Australia, the National superyacht industry development body, said “The superyacht visa creates a new opportunity to further develop the Australian superyacht visitation market. Prior to the year 2000, Australia was attracting an average of four foreign flagged vessels per annum cruising our waters. In the past three years, there have been 170 yacht visitations, generating an estimated $470 million dollars in economic impact to the various superyacht businesses and supply chains throughout Australia. This increase in visitation to date has been based on yachts visiting Australia primarily for private cruising. The new superyacht visa, which will now enable yachts to charter in Australian waters will send a message to the world’s fleet of 7,500 superyacht owners that Australia is now open for both private and charter cruising.”
The Super Yacht Group – Great Barrier Reef, together with peak body, Super Yacht Base Australia successfully lobbied for this favourable policy.