[avatar user=”paulbartholomew” /]
The world has had enough of the coronavirus and has decided to open up in time for the summer. Charter brokers are saying the season starts in June with bookings coming on stream faster than daffodils in spring. There are some logistic problems such as yachts and their crew being in the wrong place, maintenance a month or so behind and those pesky social distancing rules in place but nothing that cannot be overcome with ingenuity and an injection of the one thing the industry is not short of: cash.
The problem that the tourism industry will face – and the superyacht industry is a part of the tourism industry, albeit at the pinnacle – is that governments spent a lot of time and money convincing people to fear the virus. And the people were afraid, very afraid. Now that it is not convenient to extend the lockdowns as they are detrimental to the economy, the world is being encouraged to come out blinking into the light and embrace the market economy again. People, once scared, need a lot of convincing to not be afraid anymore.
It is inconceivable that a sector of the population over sixty will drop their fear just because their leaders say it is all OK now. The younger generation may feel that this is a crisis which does not affect them – and many are resentful that they have been dragged into an ‘old person’s’ problem but they generally don’t have the money to engage the superyacht charter industry. The older you go, the higher the personal wealth but also the greater the reluctance to come out and return to normal. People have been traumatised. Vast swathes of the adult population have started to believe the bogey man is real. It will take time to persuade them that the bogey man is just a figment of the imagination created to scare kids into behaving themselves.
The charter sector is brimming with the happy news that the ports and harbours are open again. And they are open, a cause for celebration, but before we all crack open the Dom Perignon, let us not forget the bogey man who is lurking in the bushes, waiting to do an Arnie and say I’m back. Lockdown the Sequel. Not as good as the first, but still has the power to thrill, shock and get you hiding behind the sofa.
The Fat Person has not sung yet. Un bel di vedremo. This summer could still just be a fly past, a drive by, a dark cloud of fear raining on the industry’s parade
The members of SYBASS and LYBRA (the superyacht builders and large yacht brokers of the world) think so too. No Monaco Yacht Show for them this year, a decision that puts the organisers of the show in a difficult position, facing the unenviable and perhaps irreconcilable task of having to preserve the elite status of the MYS without the presence of the very companies that confirm the show’s exclusivity. A year without the MYS would be historic and would be referred to in hushed terms years to come. The show, though, is both a showcase and networking event. Without social distancing and with the spectre of the virus lurking both in people’s imaginations and on the surfaces of the exhibitors’ booths, the MYS could well be a hot spot in any COVID 19 Part Deux. This is publicity the industry does not need and would provoke a Twitter shit storm worse than a plague of locusts.