Kaohsiung, April 22 (CNA) Taiwanese yacht builders signed a letter of intent with the Kaohsiung city government Thursday to increase their investment in Kaohsiung and take advantage of plans that the city government has mapped out to facilitate their development.
John Lu, founder and CEO of Horizon Yachts — the largest superyacht builder in Asia and sixth-largest in the world — and chairman of the Taiwan Yacht Industry Association, signed the letter of intent on behalf of association members with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu.
Lu said that although many Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Qingdao and Shenzhen, have beckoned Taiwanese yacht builders with investment incentives, he prefers keeping his company home in Kaohsiung.
“The Kaohsiung sail boat industry has its competitiveness as a cluster of builders has been forming here,” Lu said.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Chen said the development of a yacht building hub, to be named the Asia Luxury Sail Boat Development District, will be one of the pivotal projects under the port city’s endeavor to speed up its industrial transition.
The sail boat building district will be located on a 105-hectare tidal land area to which the city government will allocate NT$5 billion (US$160 million) for development, Chen said.
She added that the yacht building district has also been included in a project approved by the Executive Yuan to develop a new “ocean-and-air” town in Kaohsiung.
Lu said that despite China’s beckoning, he and other Taiwanese yacht builders preferred to keep their roots in Kaohsiung because of the high-caliber manpower in Taiwan and a well-established research, production, marketing and delivery chain.
“The Asia Luxury Sail Boat Development District to be developed in Kaohsiung could become the most complete and competitive yacht building area in the world,” a confident Lu forecast.
Taiwan’s yacht industry is a 40-year veteran in the yacht building world, even though yachting is non-existent in Taiwan due to restrictive regulations.
He said Taiwan is the only country in the world in which yacht builders build yachts on land, and the only yacht building country in the world in which yachting has until recent years not been permitted.
It is not impossible for Taiwan to turn into a yachting country if the government lifts a ban on the development of marinas and yachting, and adds new statutes governing yachting, Lu said. (By Emma Tseng and Deborah Kuo) enditem/cs