Guangdong is considering allowing yachts registered in Macau and Hong Kong to sail in the Pearl River Delta, state media has reported.
If the province opens up its waters and marinas, industry insiders on the mainland expect a boost in yacht sales but are also concerned that smugglers could take advantage of the travel pass.
“The authorities of the three areas have been studying for years the feasibility of a cross-border sailing scheme, first suggested by the Guangdong government,” said Sunny Tao, a senior salesman with Simpson Marine, one of the mainland’s biggest yacht broker companies.
“However, they have made no progress because of concerns about smuggling, marine damage and the difference in taxes between the areas.”
Department director Wu Jiansheng said the idea, if realised, would be a significant step in promoting economic development.
“Our company sold about one billion yuan [HK$1.26 billion] of yachts to mainland clients last year. If the policy is put into use, I believe a 20 to 30 per cent growth in orders would follow.”
The mainland yachting industry, worth 4.15 billion yuan at the end of 2013, is booming on the back of rapidly rising domestic demand, state media says.
But very few wealthy Chinese people actually buy these sailing boats. The regulations are restrictive and do not encourage yacht ownership. For example, a person licensed as a yacht helmsman in Hong Kong or Macau cannot cruise to the Pearl River Delta or waters farther away.
Tao said that if a cross-border sailing scheme for private boats was allowed, “many mainlanders would buy and register their boats in Hong Kong but sail in Guangdong, instead of paying tax to the mainland government”.
He explained that the mainland demanded a 43 per cent import tax for yachts, while the tax was much lower in Hong Kong.